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This edition is largely based upon the 
complete works of THOMAS JEFFERSON, 
published under the auspices of the JEF- 
ing been followed in making the extracts, 
and the publishers gratefully acknowledge 
the courtesy of the SOCIETY in permit- 
tin" them to utilize this valuable material. 





Lecturer in English, Columbia University 


Assistant Professor of History, University of Missouri 
















INDEX . . 310 


On a Juvenile Experience 

To John Page 

FAIRFIELD, December 25, 1762. 

Dear Page: This very day, to others the day of greatest 
mirth and jollity, sees me overwhelmed with more and 
greater misfortunes than have befallen a descendant of 
Adam for these thousand years past, I am sure; and per 
haps, after excepting Job, since the creation of the world. 
I think his misfortunes were somewhat greater than mine; 
for, although we may be pretty nearly on a level in other 
respects, yet, I thank my God, I have the advantage of 
brother Job in this, that Satan has not as yet put forth his 
hand to load me with bodily afflictions. You must know, 
dear Page, that I am now in a house surrounded with ene 
mies, who take counsel together against my soul; and when 
I lay me down to rest, they say among themselves, come let 
us destroy him. I am sure if there is such a thing as a 
Devil in this world, he must have been here last night and 
have had some hand in contriving what happened to me. 
Do you think the cursed rats (at his instigation, I sup 
pose) did not eat up my pocket-book, which was in my 
pocket, within a foot of my head? And not contented with 
plenty for the present, they carried away my jemmy- 
worked silk garters, and half a dozen new minuets I had 
just got, to serve, I suppose, as provision for the winter. 
But of this I should not have accused the Devil, (because, 



you know rats will be rats, and hunger, without the addi 
tion of his instigations, might have urged them to do this), 
if something worse, and from a different quarter, had not 
happened. You know it rained last night, or if you do not 
know it, I am sure I do. When I went to bed, I laid my 
watch in the usual place, and going to take her up after I 
arose this morning, I found her in the same place, it s true, 
but Quantum mutatus ab illo! all afloat in water, let in at 
a leak in the roof of the house, and as silent and still as 
the rats that had eat my pocket-book. Now, you know, 
if chance had had anything to do in this matter, there were 
a thousand other spots where it might have chanced to 
leak as well as at this one, which was perpendicularly over 
my watch. But I ll tell you, it s my opinion that the Devil 
came and bored the hole over it on purpose. Well, as I 
was saying, my poor watch had lost her speech. I should 
not have cared much for this, but something worse at 
tended it; the subtle particles of the water with which the 
case was filled, had, by their penetration, so overcome the 
cohesion of the particles of the paper, of which my dear 
picture and watch-paper were composed, that, in attempt 
ing to take them out to dry them, good God ! Mem horret 
referre! My cursed fingers gave them such a rent, as I 
fear I never shall get over. This, cried I, was the last 
stroke Satan had in reserve for me ; he knew I cared not for 
anything else he could do to me, and was determined to 
try his last most fatal expedient. "Multis fortunes vulneri- 
bus percussus, huic uni me imparem sensi, et penitus suc- 
cubui!" I would have cried bitterly, but I thought it be 
neath the dignity of a man, and a man too, who had read 
rwv OJ/TWV, TO. fj,fv <j>7jfj,iv, TO. 8 e.K f<f>i)fjLiv. However, what 
ever misfortunes may attend the picture or lover, my hearty 
prayers shall be, that all the health and happiness which 
Heaven can send may be the portion of the original, and 



that so much goodness may ever meet with what may be 
most agreeable in this world, as I am sure it must be in the 
next. And now, although the picture be defaced, there is 
so lively an image of her imprinted in my mind, that I shall 
think of her too often, I fear, for my peace of mind; and 
too often, I am sure, to get through old Coke this winter; 
for God knows I have not seen him since I packed him up 
in my trunk in Williamsburg. Well, Page, I do wish the 
Devil had old Coke, for I am sure I never was so tired of 
an old dull scoundrel in my life. What ! are there so few 
inquietudes tacked to this momentary life of ours, that we 
must need be loading ourselves with a thousand more? Or, 
as brother Job says, (who, by the by, I think began to 
whine a little under his afflictions), "Are not my days few? 
Cease then, that I may take comfort a little before I go 
whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness, and 
the shadow of death." But the old fellows say we must 
read to gain knowledge, and gain knowledge to make us 
happy and admired. Mere jargon! Is there any such 
thing as happiness in this world? No. And as for ad 
miration, I am sure the man who powders most, perfumes 
most, embroiders most, and talks most nonsense, is most 
admired. Though to be candid, there are some who have 
too much good sense to esteem such monkey-like animals 
as these, in whose formation, as the saying is, the tailors 
and barbers go halves with God Almighty; and since these 
are the only persons whose esteem is worth a wish, I do not 
know but that, upon the whole, the advice of these old 
fellows may be worth following. 


On an ~Affair of the Heart 

To John Page 

SHADWELL, July 15, 1763. 

Dear Page: Yours of May 30th came safe to hand. The 
rival you mentioned I know not whether to think formida 
ble or not, as there has been so great an opening for him 
during my absence. I say has been, because I expect there 
is one no longer. Since you have undertaken to act as my 
attorney, you advise me to go immediately and lay siege 
in form. You certainly did not think, at the time you wrote 
this, of that paragraph in my letter wherein I mentioned 
to you my resolution of going to Britain. And to begin 
an affair of that kind now, and carry it on so long a time 
in form, is by no means a proper plan. No, no, Page; 
whatever assurances I may give her in private of my es 
teem for her, or whatever assurances I may ask in return 
from her, depend on it they must be kept in private. Ne 
cessity will oblige me to proceed in a method which is not 
generally thought fair; that of treating with a ward before 
obtaining the approbation of her guardian. I say necessity 
will oblige me to it, because I never can bear to remain in 
suspense so long a time. If I am to succeed, the sooner 
I know it, the less uneasiness I shall have to go through. 
If I am to meet with a disappointment, the sooner I know 
it, the more of life I shall have to wear it off; and if I do 
meet with one, I hope in God, and verily believe, it will be 
the last. I assure you, that I almost envy you your pres 
ent freedom; and if Belinda will not accept of my service, 
it shall never be offered to another. That she may, I pray 
most sincerely; but that she will, she never gave me reason 
to hope. With regard to my not proceeding in form, I do 



not know how she may like it. I am afraid not much. That 
her guardians would not, if they should know of it, is very 
certain. But I should think that if they were consulted 
after I return, it would be sufficient. The greatest incon 
venience would be my not having the liberty of visiting 
so freely. This is a subject worth your talking over with 
her; and I wish you would, and would transmit to me your 
whole confab at length. I should be scared to death at 
making her so unreasonable a proposal as that of waiting 
until I return from Britain, unless she could first be pre 
pared for it. I am afraid it will make my chance of suc 
ceeding considerably worse. But the event at last must be 
this, that if she consents, I shall be happy; if she does not, 
I must endeavor to be as much so as possible. I have 
thought a good deal on your case, and as mine may perhaps 
be similar, I must endeavor to look on it in the same light 
in which I have often advised you to look on yours. Per 
fect happiness, I believe, was never intended by the Deity 
to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world; but that 
he has very much put in our power the nearness of our ap 
proaches to it, is what I have steadfastly believed. 

The most fortunate of us, in our journey through life, 
frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may 
greatly afflict us ; and, to fortify our minds against the 
attacks of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one 
of the principal studies and endeavors of our lives. The 
only method of doing this is to assume a perfect resignation 
to the Divine will, to consider that whatever does happen, 
must happen; and that, by our uneasiness, we cannot pre 
vent the blow before it does fall, but we may add to its 
force after it has fallen. These considerations, and others 
such as these, may enable us in some measure to surmount 
the difficulties thrown in our way ; to bear up with a toler 
able degree of patience under this burthen of life; and to 



proceed with a pious and unshaken resignation, till we ar 
rive at our journey s end, when we may deliver up our trust 
into the hands of Him who gave it, and receive such reward 
as to him shall seem proportioned to our merit. Such, dear 
Page, will be the language of the man who considers his 
situation in this life, and such should be the language of 
every man who would wish to render that situation as easy 
as the nature of it will admit. Few things will disturb him 
at all: nothing will disturb him much. 

On Books 

To Robert Skiptvith 

AUGUST 3, 1771. 

We never reflect whether the story we read be truth or 
fiction. If the painting be lively, and a tolerable picture 
of nature, we are thrown into a reverie, from which if we 
awaken it is the fault of the writer. I appeal to every 
reader of feeling and sentiment whether the fictitious mur 
der of Duncan by Macbeth in Shakespeare does not excite 
in him as great a horror of villainy, as the real one of 
Henry IV. by Ravaillac as related by Davila? And 
whether the fidelity of Nelson and generosity of Blandford 
in Marmontel do not dilate his breast and elevate his sen 
timents as much as any similar incident which real history 
can furnish ? Does he not, in fact, feel himself a better man 
while reading them, and privately covenant to copy the fair 
example? We neither know nor care whether Laurence 
Sterne really went to France, whether he was there ac 
costed by the Franciscan, at first rebuked him unkindly, 
and then gave him a peace-offering ; or whether the whole 
be not fiction. In either case we equally are sorrowful at 



the rebuke, and secretly resolve rve will never do so; we are 
pleased with the subsequent atonement, and view with emu 
lation a soul candidly acknowledging its fault and making 
a just reparation. Considering history as a moral exercise, 
her lessons would be too infrequent if confined to real life. 
Of those recorded by historians few incidents have been 
attended with such circumstances as to excite in any high 
degree this sympathetic emotion of virtue. We are, there 
fore, wisely framed to be as warmly interested for a ficti 
tious as for a real personage. The field of imagination is 
thus laid open to our use and lessons may be formed to il 
lustrate and carry home to the heart every moral rule of life. 
Thus a lively and lasting sense of filial duty is more effect 
ually impressed on the mind of a son or daughter by reading 
King Lear, than by all the dry volumes of ethics, and divin 
ity that ever were written. 

Jefferson s Opinion of Ossian 

To Chas. McPherson 

ALBEMARLE, IN VIRGINIA, February 25, 1778. 
Dear Sir: Encouraged by the small acquaintance which 
I had the pleasure of having contracted with you during 
your residence in this country, I take the liberty of making 
the present application to you. I understood you were re 
lated to the gentleman of your name (Mr. James McPher 
son), to whom the world is so much indebted for the ele 
gant collection, arrangement, and translation of Ossian s 
poems. These pieces have been and will, I think, during 
my life, continue to be to me the sources of daily and ex 
alted pleasures. The tender and the sublime emotions of 
the mind were never before so wrought up by the human 



hand. I am not ashamed to own that I think this rude bard 
of the North the greatest poet that has ever existed. Merely 
for the pleasure of reading his works, I am become desir 
ous of learning the language in which he sung, and of pos 
sessing his songs in their original form. Mr. McPhersor, 
I think, informs us he is possessed of the originals. In 
deed, a gentleman has lately told me he had seen them in 
print; but I am afraid he has mistaken a specimen from 
"Temora," annexed to some of the editions of the transln- 
tion, for the whole works. If they are printed, it 
will abridge my request and your trouble, to the send 
ing me a printed copy; but if there be more such, 
my petition is, that you would be so good as to use your 
interest with Mr. McPherson to obtain leave to take a. 
manuscript copy of them, and procure it to be done. I 
would choose it in a fair, round hand, on fine paper, with 
a good margin, bound in parchments as elegantly as 
possible, lettered on the back, and marbled or gilt on 
the edges of the leaves. I would not regard expense 
in doing this. I would further beg the favor of you 
to give me a catalogue of the books written in that 
language, and to send me such of them as may be neces 
sary for learning it. These will, of course, include a 
grammar and dictionary. The cost of these, as well as the 
copy of Ossian, will be (for me), on demand, answered by 
Mr. Alexander McCaul, sometime of Virginia, merchant, 
but now of Glasgow, or by your friend Mr. Ninian Minzees, 
of Richmond, in Virginia, to whose care the books may be 
sent. You can, perhaps, tell me whether we may ever 
hope to see any more of those Celtic pieces published. 
Manuscript copies of any which are in print, it would at 
any time give me the greatest happiness to receive. The 
glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than mone} 7 . 
I hear with pleasure from your friend that your path 



through life is likely to be smoothed by success. I wish 
the business and the pleasures of your situation would admit 
leisure now and then to scribble a line to one who wishes 
you every felicity, and would willingly merit the appella 
tion of, dear sir, 

Your friend and humble servant. 

^Attitude toward England 

To John Randolph 

PHILADELPHIA, November 29, 1775. 

Believe me, dear Sir, there is not in the British empire a 
man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain 
than I do. But by the God that made me, I will cease to 
exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the 
British Parliament propose ; and in this, I think I speak the 
sentiments of America. We want neither inducement nor 
power, to declare and assert a separation. It is will, alone, 
which is wanting, and that is growing apace under the fos 
tering hand of our King. One bloody campaign will prob 
ably decide, everlastingly, our future course; and I am 
sorry to find a bloody campaign is decided on. If our 
winds and waters should not combine to rescue their shores 
from slavery, and General Howe s re-enforcements should 
arrive in safety, we have hopes he will be inspirited to come 
out of Boston and take another drubbing; and we must 
drub him soundly, before the sceptred tyrant will know 
we are not mere brutes, to crouch under his hand, and kiss 
the rod with which he designs to scourge us. 



Declaration of Independence 1 

A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States 
of America, in General Congress assembled 

JUNE 20, 1776. 

When, in the course of human events, it becomes neces 
sary for one people to dissolve the political bands which 
have connected them witli another, and to assume among 
the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to 
which the laws of nature and of nature s God entitle them, 
a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that 
they should declare the causes which impel them to the 

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are 
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with 
[inherent and] certain inalienable rights; that among these 
are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ; that to se 
cure these rights, governments are instituted among men, 
deriving their just powers from the consent of the gov 
erned; that whenever any form of government becomes de 
structive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter 
or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its 
foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers 
in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect 
their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate 
that governments long established should not be changed 
for light and transient causes; and accordingly all expe 
rience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer 
while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abol- 

1 The passages in brackets [ ] were included in the original draft, but 
omitted by the Committee or by Congress ; those in italics, not in the 
original, were inserted by the same authorities. The last two para 
graphs are printed in full in both their original and final form. 



ishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when 
a long train of abuses and usurpations, [begun at a dis 
tinguished period and] pursuing invariably the same object, 
evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, 
it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such govern 
ment, and to provide new guards for their future security. 
Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and 
such is now the necessity which constrains them to [ex 
punge] alter their former systems of government. The 
history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of 
[unremitting] repeated injuries and usurpations, [among 
which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform 
tenor of the rest, but all have] all having in direct object 
the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. 
To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world [for 
the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by false 

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome 
and necessary for the public good. 

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of imme 
diate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their 
operation till his assent should be obtained; and, when so 
suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. 

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation 
of large districts of people, unless those people would re 
linquish the right of representation in the legislature, a 
right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places un 
usual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of 
their public records, for the sole purpose of f atiguing them 
into compliance with his measures. 

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly [and 
continually] for opposing with manly firmness his invasions 
on the rights of the people. 



He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to 
cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, 
incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at 
large for their exercise, the state remaining, in the mean 
time, exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without 
and convulsions within. 

He lias endeavored to prevent the population of these 
states ; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturaliza 
tion of foreigners, refusing to pass others to encourage 
their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new 
appropriations of lands. 

He has [suffered] obstructed the administration of jus 
tice [totally to cease in some of these states] by refusing 
his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. 

He has made [our] judges dependent on his will alone 
for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment 
of their salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of new offices, [by a self- 
assumed power] and sent hither swarms of new officers to 
harass our people and eat out their substance. 

He has kept among us in times of peace standing armies 
[and ships of war] without the consent of our legislatures. 

He has affected to render the military independent of, 
and superior to, the civil power. 

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdic 
tion foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our 
laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation 
for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; for 
protecting them by a mock trial from punishment for any 
murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of 
these states ; for cutting off our trade with all parts of the 
world; for imposing taxes on us without our consent; for 
depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury; 
for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended 



offences; for abolishing the free system of English laws in 
a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary 
government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it 
at once an example and tit instrument for introducing the 
same absolute rule into these [states] colonies; for taking 
away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and 
altering fundamentally the forms of our governments; for 
suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves 
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases what 

He has abdicated government here [withdrawing his gov 
ernors, and declaring us out of his allegiance and protec 
tion] by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war 
against us. 

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt 
our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign 
mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and 
tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and 
perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and 
totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation. 

He has constrained our fellow-citizens taken captive on 
the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become 
the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall 
themselves by their hands. 

He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has 
endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the 
merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is 
an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and condi 
tions [of existence]. 

[He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow- 
citizens, with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation 
of our property. 

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, vio- 



Inting its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the per 
sons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating 
and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to 
incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This 
piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the 
warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Deter 
mined to keep open a market where men should be bought 
and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing 
every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this 
execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors 
might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting 
those very people to rise in arms among us, and to pur 
chase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by mur 
dering the people on whom he also obtruded them : thus 
paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of 
one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit 
against the lives of another.] 

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned 
for redress in the most humble terms : our repeated petitions 
have been answered only by repeated injuries. 

A prince whose character is thus marked by every act 
which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free 
people [who mean to be free. Future ages will scarcely 
believe that the hardiness of one man adventured, within 
the short compass of twelve years only, to lay a foundation 
so broad and so undisguised for tyranny over a people fos 
tered and fixed in principles of freedom]. 

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British 
brethren. We have warned them from time to time of at 
tempts by their legislature to extend [a] an unwarrantable 
jurisdiction over [these our states] us. We have reminded 
them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement 
here, [no one of which could warrant so strange a preten 
sion; that these were effected at the expense of our own 



blood and treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength 
of Great Britain; that in constituting indeed our several 
forms of government, we had adopted one common king, 
thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and amity 
with them; but that submission to their parliament was no 
part of our constitution, nor ever in idea, if history may be 
credited; and,] we have appealed to their native justice and 
magnanimity [as well as to] and we have conjured them by 
the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations 
which [were likely to] would inevitably interrupt our con 
nection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to 
the voice of justice and of consanguinity, [and when occa 
sions have been given them, by the regular course of their 
laws, of removing from their councils the disturbers of our 
harmony, they have, by their free election, re-established 
them in power. At this very time too, they are permitting 
their chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our 
common blood, but Scotch and foreign mercenaries to invade 
and destroy us. These facts have given the last stab to ago 
nizing affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce for 
ever these unfeeling brethren. We must endeavor to forget 
our former love for them, and hold them as we hold the rest 
of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. We might 
have been a free and a great people together; but a com 
munication of grandeur and of freedom, it seems, is below 
their dignity. Be it so, since they will have it. The road 
to happiness and to glory is open to us, too. We will tread 
it apart from them, and] rve must therefore acquiesce in 
the necessity which denounces our [eternal] separation 
and hold them as rve hold the rest of mankind, enemies in 
war, in peace friends. 

We therefore the representatives of the United States of 
America in General Congress assembled, do in the name, 



and by the authority of the good people of these [states re 
ject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings 
of Great Britain and all others who may hereafter claim 
by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve all political 
connection which may heretofore have subsisted between us 
and the people or parliament of Great Britain; and finally 
we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and inde 
pendent states,] and that as free and independent states, 
they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract 
alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and 
things which independent states may of right do. 

And for the support of this declaration, we mutually 
pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred 

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of 
America in General Congress assembled, appealing to the 
supreme judge of the world for the rectitude of our inten 
tions, do in the name, and by the authority of the good peo 
ple of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that 
these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and 
independent states; that they are absolved from all alle 
giance to the British crown, and that all political connection 
between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought 
to be, totally dissolved; and that as free and independent 
states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, 
contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other 
acts and things which independent states may of right do. 

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm re 
liance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually 
pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred 


On Retiring from Public Life 

To Colonel James Monroe 

MONTICELLO, May 20, 1782. 

Before I ventured to declare to my countrymen my de 
termination to retire from public employment, I examined 
well my heart to know whether it were thoroughly cured 
of every principle of political ambition, whether no lurking 
particle remained which might leave me uneasy, when 
reduced within the limits of mere private life. I became sat 
isfied that every fibre of that passion was thoroughly eradi 
cated. I examined also, in other views, my right to with 
draw. I considered that I had been thirteen years engaged 
in public service that, during that time, I had so totally 
abandoned all attention to my private affairs as to permit 
them to run into great disorder and ruin that I had now a 
family advanced to years which require my attention and 
instruction that, to these, was added the hopeful offspring 
of a deceased friend, whose memory must be forever dear 
to me, and who have no other reliance for being rendered 
useful to themselves or their country that by a constant 
sacrifice of time, labor, parental and friendly duties, I had, 
so far from gaining the affection of my countrymen, which 
was the only reward I ever asked or could have felt, even 
lost the small estimation I had before possessed. 


On American Genius 

From Notes on Virginia 


"America has not yet produced one good poet." When 
we shall have existed as a people as long as the Greeks 
did before they produced a Homer, the Romans a Virgil, 
the Frencli a Racine and Voltaire, the English a Shake 
speare and Milton, should this reproach be still true, we 
will inquire from what unfriendly causes it has proceeded, 
that the other countries of Europe and quarters of the 
earth shall not have inscribed any name in the roll of 
poets. But neither has America produced "one able math 
ematician, one man of genius in a single art or a single 
science." In war we have produced a Washington, whose 
memory will be adored while liberty shall have votaries, 
whose name shall triumph over time, and will in future 
ages assume its just station among the most celebrated 
worthies of the world, when that Avretched philosophy 
shall be forgotten which would have arranged him among 
the degeneracies of nature. In physics we have produced 
a Franklin, than whom no one of the present age has made 
more important discoveries, nor has enriched philosophy 
with more, or more ingenious solutions of the phenomena 
of nature. We have supposed Mr. Rittenhouse second to 
no astronomer living; that in genius he must be the first, 
because he is self taught. As an artist he has exhibited 
as great a proof of mechanical genius as the world has 
ever produced. He has not indeed made a world; but 
he has by imitation approached nearer its Maker than 
any man who has lived from the creation to this day. As 
in philosophy and war, so in government, in oratory, in 



painting, in the plastic art, we might show that America, 
though but a child of yesterday, has already given hopeful 
proofs of genius, as well as of the nobler kinds, which 
arouse the best feelings of man, which call him into ac 
tion, which substantiate his freedom, and conduct him to 
happiness, as of the subordinate, which serve to amuse 
him only. We therefore suppose that this reproach is as 
unjust as it is unkind; and that, of the geniuses which 
adorn the present age, America contributes its full share. 

On Slavery 

Proposed Revision of Constitution of Virginia 
From Notes on Virginia 

To establish religious freedom on the broadest bottom. 

To emancipate all slaves born after the passing the act. 
The bill reported by the revisers does not itself contain this 
proposition ; but an amendment containing it was prepared, 
to be offered to the legislature whenever the bill should be 
taken up, and further directing, that they should continue 
with their parents to a certain age, then to be brought up, 
at the public expense, to tillage, arts, or sciences, according 
to their geniuses, till the females should be eighteen, and 
the males twenty-one years of age, when they should be 
colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time 
should render most proper, sending them out with arms, 
implements of household and of the handicraft arts, seeds, 
pairs of the useful domestic animals, &c., to declare them a 
free and independent people, and extend to them our al 
liance and protection, till they have acquired strength; and 
to send vessels at the same time to other parts of the world 
for an equal number of white inhabitants; to induce them 
to migrate hither proper encouragements were to be pro- 



posed. It will probably be asked, Why not retain and 
incorporate the blacks into the State, and thus save the ex 
pense of supplying by importation of white settlers, the va 
cancies they will leave? Deep-rooted prejudices enter 
tained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the 
blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provoca 
tions ; the real distinctions which nature has made ; and 
many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and 
produce convulsions, which will probably never end but in 
the extermination of the one or the other race. To these ob 
jections, which are political, may be added others, which 
are physical and moral. 

. . . They seem to require less sleep. A black, after 
hard labor through the day, will be induced by the slightest 
amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though know 
ing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. 
They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But 
this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, 
which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. 
When present, they do not go through it with more coolness 
or steadiness than the whites. . . . Love seems with them 
to be more an eager desire, than a tender, delicate mixt 
ure of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. 
Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful wheth 
er Heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less 
felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their ex 
istence appears to participate more of sensation than re 
flection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep 
when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in 
labor. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not 
reflect must be disposed to sleep of course. Comparing 
them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, 
it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the 
whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarce- 



ly be found capable of tracing and comprehending the in 
vestigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are 
dull, tasteless, and anomalous. . . . Never yet 
could I find that a black had uttered a thought above 
the level of plain narration; never saw even an ele 
mentary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they 
are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate 
ears for tune and time, and they have been found capa 
ble of imagining a small catch. Whether they will be 
equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, 
or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is 
often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry. 
Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no 
poetry. Love is the peculiar oestrum of the poet. Their 
love is ardent, but it kindles the senses only, not the imagi 
nation. Religion, indeed, has produced a Phyllis Whately; 
but it could not produce a poet. 

On Slavery 

From Notes on Virginia 

There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the t 
manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery 
among us. The whole commerce between master and slave I 
is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the / 
most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading 
submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn 
to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality 
is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his 
grave he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a par 
ent could find no motive either in his philanthropy or his 
self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion tow 
ard his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his 



child is present. But generally it is not sufficient. The par 
ent storms, the child looks on,, catches the lineaments of 
wrath, puts on the same airs in the circle of smaller slaves, 
gives a loose to the worst of passions, and thus nursed, edu 
cated, and daily exercised in tyranny, cannot but be stamped 
by it with odious peculiarities. The man must be a prodigy 
who can retain his manners and morals undepraved by such 
circumstances. And with what execration should the states 
man be loaded, who, permitting one-half the citizens thus 
to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into 
despots, and these into enemies, destroys the morals of the 
one part, and the amor patrice of the other. For if a 
slave can have a country in this world, it must be any other 
in preference to that in which he is born to live and labor 
for another; in which he must lock up the faculties of his 
nature, contribute as far as depends on his individual en 
deavors to the evanishment of the human race, or entail his 
own miserable condition on the endless generations proceed 
ing from him. With the morals of the people, their indus 
try also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will 
labor for himself who can make another labor for him. 
This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small 
proportion indeed are ever seen to labor. And can the lib 
erties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed 
their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people 
that these liberties are of the gift of God ? That they are 
not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble 
for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his 
justice cannot sleep forever; that considering numbers, nat 
ure and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of 
fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events ; 
that it may become probable by supernatural interference ! 
The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us 
in such a contest. But it is impossible to be temperate and 



to pursue this subject through the various considerations of 
policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be 
contented to hope they will force their way into every one s 
mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin 
of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abat 
ing, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition 
mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices 
of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is dis 
posed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the 
masters, rather than by their extirpation. 

On Religion 

From Notes on Virginia 

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts 
only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury 
for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. 
It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If it be 
said, his testimony in a court of justice cannot be relied on, 
reject it then, and be the stigma on him. Constraint may 
make him worse by making him a hypocrite, but it will never 
make him a truer man. It may fix him obstinately in his 
errors, but will not cure them. Reason and free inquiry are 
the only effectual agents against error. Give a loose to 
them, they will support the true religion by bringing every 
false one to their tribunal, to the test of their investigation. 
They are the natural enemies of error and of error only. 
Had not the Roman Government permitted free inquiry, 
Christianity could never have been introduced. Had not 
free inquiry been indulged at the era of the Reformation, 
the corruptions of Christianity could not have been purged 
away. If it be restrained now, the present corruptions will 



be protected, and new ones encouraged. Was the Govern 
ment to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies 
would be in such keeping as our souls are now. Thus in 
France the emetic was once forbidden as a medicine, and 
the potato as an article of food. Government is just as in 
fallible, too, when it fixes systems in physics. Galileo was 
sent to the Inquisition for affirming that the earth was a 
sphere; the government had declared it to be as flat as a 
trencher, and Galileo was obliged to abjure his error. This 
error, however, at length prevailed, the earth became a 
globe, and Descartes declared it was whirled round its axis 
by a vortex. The government in which he lived was wise 
enough to see that this was no question of civil jurisdiction, 
or we should all have been involved by authority in vortices. 
In fact, the vortices have been exploded, and the Newtonian 
principle of gravitation is now more firmly established, on 
the basis of reason, than it would be were the government 
to step in, and to make it an article of necessary faith. 
Reason and experiment have been indulged, and error has 
fled before them. It is error alone which needs the support 
of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opin 
ion to coercion : whom will you make your inquisitors ? Fal 
lible men ; men governed by bad passions, by private as well 
as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To 
produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desira 
ble? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed 
of Procrustes then, and as there is danger that the large 
men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping 
the former and stretching the latter. Difference of opinion 
is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the 
office of a censor morum over such other. Is uniformity 
attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and chil 
dren, since the introduction of Christianity, have been 
burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not ad- 



vanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the 
effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools, and 
the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error 
all over the earth. Let us reflect that it is inhabited by a 
thousand millions of people. That these profess probably 
a thousand different systems of religion. That ours is but 
one of that thousand. That if there be but one right, and 
ours that one, we should wish to see the nine hundred and 
ninety-nine wandering sects gathered into the fold of truth. 
But against such a majority we cannot effect this by force. 
Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. 
To make way for these, free inquiry must be indulged ; and 
how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it our 
selves. But every State, says an inquisitor, has established 
some religion. No two, say I, have established the same. 
Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments? Our 
sister States of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have 
long subsisted without any establishment at all. The ex 
periment was new and doubtful when they made it. It has 
answered beyond conception. They flourish infinitely. 
Religion is well supported ; of various kinds, indeed, but all 
good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order; or 
if a sect arises, whose tenets should subvert morals, good 
sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, 
without suffering the State to be troubled with it. They 
do not hang more malefactors than we do. They are not 
more disturbed with religious dissensions. On the contrary, 
their harmony is unparalleled, and can be ascribed to noth 
ing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no other 
circumstance in which they differ from every nation on 
earth. They have made the happy discovery, that the way 
to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them. 



On Education 

To Martha Jefferson 

ANNAPOLIS, November 28, 1783. 

Dear Patsy: After four days journey, I arrived here 
without any accident, and in as good health as when I 
left Philadelphia. The conviction that you would be more 
improved in the situation I have placed you than if still 
with me, has solaced me on my parting with you, which my 
love for you has rendered a difficult thing. The acquire 
ments which I hope you will make under the tutors I have 
provided for you will render you more worthy of my love; 
and if they cannot increase it, they will prevent its diminu 
tion. Consider the good lady who has taken you under her 
roof, who has undertaken to see that you perform all your 
exercises, and to admonish you in all those wanderings 
from what is right or what is clever, to which your inexpe 
rience would expose you: consider her, I say, as your 
mother, as the only person to whom, since the loss with 
which Heaven has pleased to afflict you, you can now look 
up ; and that her displeasure or disapprobation, on any occa 
sion, will be an immense misfortune, which should you be so 
unhappy as to incur by any unguarded act, think no con 
cession too much to regain her good-will. With respect to 
the distribution of your time, the following is what I should 
approve : 

From 8 to 10, practise music. 

From 10 to 1, dance one day and draw another. 

From 1 to 2, draw on the day you dance, and write a 
letter next day. 

From 3 to 4, read French. 

From 4 to 5, exercise yourself in music. 



From 5 till bedtime, read English, write, etc. 

Communicate this plan to Mrs. Hopkinson, and if she 
approves of it, pursue it. As long as Mrs. Trist remains in 
Philadelphia, cultivate her affection. She has been a valua 
ble friend to you, and her good sense and good heart make 
her valued by all who know her, and by nobody on earth 
more than me. I expect you will write me by every post. 
Inform me what books you read, what tunes you learn, and 
enclose me your best copy of every lesson in drawing. 
Write also one letter a week either to your Aunt Eppes, 
your Aunt Skipwith, your Aunt Carr, or the little lady from 
whom I now enclose a letter, and always put the letter 
you so write under cover, to me. Take care that you never 
spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, 
consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember it, 
turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to 
spell well. I have placed my happiness on seeing you 
good and accomplished; and no distress this world can now 
bring on me would equal that of your disappointing my 
hopes. If you love me, then strive to be good under every 
situation and to all living creatures, and to acquire those 
accomplishments which I have put in your power, and which 
will go far toward insuring you the warmest love of your 
affectionate father. 

P. S. Keep my letters and read them at times, that you 
may always have present in your mind those things which 
will endear you to me. 


On Expenses in Paris 

PARIS, June 17, 1785. 

I thank you for your attention to my outfit. For the ar 
ticles of household furniture, clothes, and a carriage, I have 
already paid twenty-eight thousand livres, and have still 
more to pay. For the greatest part of this, I have been 
obliged to anticipate my salary, from which, however, I 
shall never be able to repay it. I find, that by a rigid econ 
omy, bordering, however, on meanness, I can save perhaps 
five hundred livres a month, at least in the summer. The 
residue goes for expenses so much of course and of neces 
sity, that I cannot avoid them without abandoning all re 
spect to my public character. Yet I will pray you to touch 
this string, which I know to be a tender one with Congress, 
with the utmost delicacy. I had rather be ruined in my 
fortune than in their esteem. If they allow me half a year s 
salary as an outfit, I can get through my debts in time. If 
they raise the salary to what it was, or even pay our house 
rent and taxes, I can live with more decency. 

On the Screw Propeller 

To Dr. Styles 

PARIS, July 17, 1785. 

A man in this city has invented a method of moving a 
vessel on the water, by a machine worked within the vessel. 
I went to see it. He did not know himself the principle of 
his own invention. It is a screw with a very broad thin 



worm, or rather it is a thin plate with its edge applied spi 
rally round an axis. This being turned, operates on the air, 
as a screw does, and may be literally said to screw the ves 
sel along; the thinness of the medium, and its want of re 
sistance, occasion a loss of much of the force. The screw, 
I think, would be more effectual if placed below the surface 
of the water. I very much suspect that a countryman of 
ours, Mr. Bushnel, of Connecticut, is entitled to the merit 
of a prior discovery of this use of the screw. I remember 
to have heard of his submarine navigation during the war, 
and, from what Colonel Humphreys now tells me, I conject 
ure that the screw was the power he used. He joined to 
this a machine for exploding under water at a given mo 
ment. If it were not too great a liberty for a stranger to 
take, I would ask from him a narration of his actual experi 
ments, with or without a communication of his principle, 
as he should choose. If he thought proper to communi 
cate it, I would engage never to disclose it, unless I could 
find an opportunity of doing it for his benefit. 

On Slavery 

To Dr. Price 

PARIS, August 7, 1785. 

In Maryland, I do not find such a disposition to begin 
the redress of this enormity [slavery] as in Virginia. This 
is the next State to which we may turn our eyes for the in 
teresting spectacle of justice, in conflict with avarice and 
oppression; a conflict wherein the sacred side is gaining 
daily recruits, from the influx into office of young men 
grown, and growing up. These have sucked in the princi- 



pies of liberty, as it were, with their mother s milk; and it 
is to them I look with anxiety to turn the fate of this ques 

Letter of Advice 

To Peter Carr 

PARIS, August 19, 1785. 

Make these, then, your first object. Give up money, 
give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all 
it contains, rather than do an immoral act. And never sup 
pose, that in any possible situation, or under any circum 
stances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, how 
ever slightly so it may appear to you. Whenever you are 
to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, 
ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking 
at you, and act accordingly. Encourage all your virtuous 
dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity 
arises, being assured that they will gain strength by exer 
cise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make 
them habitual. From the practice of the purest virtue, you 
may be assured you will derive the most sublime comforts 
in every moment of life, and in the moment of death. If 
ever you find yourself environed with difficulties and per 
plexing circumstances, out of which you are at a loss how 
to extricate yourself, do what is right, and be assured that 
that will extricate you the best out of the worst situations. 
Though you cannot see, when you take one step, what will 
be the next, yet follow truth, justice, and plain dealing, and 
never fear their leading you out of the labyrinth, in the 
easiest manner possible. The knot which you thought a 
Gordian one, will untie itself before you. Nothing is so 



mistaken as the supposition, that a person is to extricate 
himself from a difficulty, by intrigue, by chicanery, by dis 
simulation, by trimming, by an untruthj by an injustice. 
This increases the difficulties tenfold; and those, who pur 
sue these methods, get themselves so involved at length, 
that they can turn no way but their infamy becomes more 
exposed. It is of great importance to set a resolution, not 
to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. There is no vice so 
mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits him 
self to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second 
and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells 
lies without attending to it, and truths without the world s 
believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that 
of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions. 
An honest heart being the first blessing, a knowing head 
is the second. It is time for you now to begin to be choice 
in your reading; to begin to pursue a regular course in it; 
and not to suffer yourself to be turned to the right or left 
by reading anything out of that course. I have long ago 
digested a plan for you, suited to the circumstances in 
which you will be placed. This I will detail to you, from 
time to time, as you advance. For the present, I advise you 
to begin a course of ancient history, reading everything in 
the original and not in translations. First read Goldsmith s 
history of Greece. This will give you a digested view of 
that field. Then take up ancient history in the detail, read 
ing the following books, in the following order: Herodo 
tus, Thucydides, Xenophontis Anabasis, Arrian, Quintus 
Curtius, Diodorus Siculus, Justin. This shall form the first 
stage of your historical reading, and is all I need mention 
to you now. The next will be of Roman history. From 
that, we will come down to modern history. In Greek and 
Latin poetry, you have read or will read at school, Virgil, 
Terence, Horace, Anacreon, Theocritus, Homer, Euripides, 



Sophocles. Read also Milton s "Paradise Lost," Shake 
speare, Ossian, Pope s and Swift s works, in order to form 
your style in your own language. In morality, read Epicte- 
tus, Xenophontis Memorabilia, Plato s Socratic dialogues, 
Cicero s philosophies, Antoninus, and Seneca. In order to 
assure a certain progress in this reading, consider what 
hours you have free from the school and the exercises of the 
school. Give about two of them, every day, to exercise ; for 
health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body 
makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I 
advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the 
body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the 
mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that 
nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character 
on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant com 
panion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with 
you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You 
should therefore not permit yourself even to think while 
you walk; but divert yourself by the objects surrounding 
you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate 
yourself to walk very far. The Europeans value themselves 
on having subdued the horse to the uses of man; but I 
doubt whether we have not lost more than we have gained 
by the use, of this animal. No one has occasioned so much 
the degeneracy of the human body. An Indian goes on foot 
nearly as far in a day, for a long journey, as an enfeebled 
white does on his horse; and he will tire the best horses. 
There is no habit you will value so much as that of walking 
far without fatigue. I would advise you to take your exer 
cise in the afternoon, not because it is the best time for ex 
ercise, for certainly it is not, but because it is the best time 
to spare from your studies; and habit will soon reconcile 
it to health, and render it nearly as useful as if you gave to 
that the more precious hours of the day. A little walk of 



half an hour, in the morning, when you first rise, is ad 
visable also. It shakes off sleep, and produces other good 
effects in the animal economy. Rise at a fixed and an early 
hour, and go to bed at a fixed and early hour also. Sitting 
up late at night is injurious to the health, and not useful to 
the mind. Having ascribed proper hours to exercise, divide 
what remain (I mean of your vacant hours) into three por 
tions. Give the principal to History, the other two, which 
should be shorter, to Philosophy and Poetry. Write to me 
once every month or two, and let me know the progress you 
make. Tell me in what manner you employ every hour in 
the day. The plan I have proposed for you is adapted to 
your present situation only. When that is changed, I shall 
propose a corresponding change of plan. I have ordered 
the following books to be sent to you from London, to the 
care of Mr. Madison: Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon s 
Hellenics, Anabasis, and Memorabilia, Cicero s works, 
Baretti s Spanish and English Dictionary, Martin s Phil 
osophical Grammar, and Martin s Philosophia Britannica. 
I will send you the following from hence: Bezout s Mathe 
matics, De la Lande s Astronomy, Muschenbrock s Physics, 
Quintus Curtius, Justin, a Spanish Grammar, and some 
Spanish books. You will observe that Martin, Bezout, 
De la Lande, and Muschenbrock are not in the preceding 
plan. They are not to be opened till you go to the Univer 
sity. You are now, I expect, learning French. You must 
push this ; because the books which will be put into your 
hands when you advance into Mathematics, Natural philoso 
phy, Natural history, etc., will be mostly French, these 
sciences being better treated by the French than the 
English writers. Our future connection with Spain renders 
that the most necessary of the modern languages, after the 
French. When you become a public man, you may have oc 
casion for it, and the circumstance of your possessing that 



language, may give you a preference over other candidates. 
I have nothing further to add for the present, but husband 
well your time, cherish your instructors, strive to make 
everybody your friend; and be assured that nothing will be 
so pleasing as your success to, Dear Peter, 

Yours affectionately. 

On Superiority of Agriculture to Commerce 

To John Jay 


PARIS, August 23, 1785. 

The present is occasioned by the question proposed in 
yours of June the 14th: "Whether it would be useful to us, 
to carry all our own productions, or none?" 

Were we perfectly free to decide this question, I should 
reason as follows: We have now lands enough to employ 
an infinite number of people in their cultivation. Cultiva 
tors of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are 
the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, 
and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty 
and interests, by the most lasting bonds. As long, there 
fore, as they can find employment in this line, I would not 
convert them into mariners, artisans, or anything else. But 
our citizens will find employment in this line, till their num 
bers, and of course their productions, become too great for 
the demand, both internal and foreign. This is not the case 
as yet, and probably will not be for a considerable time. As 
soon as it is, the surplus of hands must be turned to some 
thing else. I should then, perhaps, wish to turn them to 
the sea in preference to manufactures ; because, comparing 



the characters of the two classes, I find the former the most 
valuable citizens. I consider the class of artificers as the 
panders of vice, and the instruments by which the liber 
ties of a country are generally overturned. \ However, we 
are not free to decide this question on principles of theory 
only. Our people are decided in the opinion that it is nec 
essary for us to take a share in the occupation of the ocean, 
and their established habits induce them to require that the 
sea be kept open to them, and that that line of policy be 
pursued, which will render the use of that element to them 
as great as possible. I think it a duty in those intrusted 
with the administration of their affairs, to conform them 
selves to the decided choice of their constituents ; and that, 
therefore, we should, in every instance, preserve an equality 
of right to them in the transportation of commodities, in the 
right of fishing, and in the other uses of the sea. 

But what will be the consequence? Frequent wars with 
out a doubt. Their property will be violated on the sea, 
and in foreign ports, their persons will be insulted, impris 
oned, etc., for pretended debts, contracts, crimes, contra 
band, etc., etc. These insults must be resented, even if we 
had no feelings, yet to prevent their eternal repetition; or, 
in other words, our commerce on the ocean and in other 
countries, must be paid for by frequent war. The justest 
dispositions possible in ourselves, will not secure us against 
it. It would be necessary that all other nations were just 
also. Justice indeed, on our part, will save us from those 
wars which would have been produced by a contrary dis 
position. But how can we prevent those produced by the 
wrongs of other nations? By putting ourselves in a con 
dition to punish them. Weakness provokes insult and in 
jury, while a condition to punish, often prevents them. 
This reasoning leads to the necessity of some naval force; 
that being the only weapon by which we can reach an 



enemy. I think it to our interest to punish the first insult, 
because an insult unpunished is the parent of many others. 
We are not, at this moment, in a condition to do it, but we 
should put ourselves into it, as soon as possible. If a war 
with England should take place, it seems to me that the 
first thing necessary would be a resolution to abandon the 
carrying trade, because we cannot protect it. Foreign na 
tions must, in that case, be invited to bring us what we 
want, and to take our productions in their own bottoms. 
This alone could prevent the loss of those productions to 
us, and the acquisition of them to our enemy. Our seamen 
might be employed in depredations on their trade. But 
how dreadfully we shall suffer on our coasts, if we have 
no force on the water, former experience has taught us. 
Indeed, I look forward with horror to the very possible 
case of war with a European power, and think there is no 
protection against them, but from the possession of some 
force on the sea. Our vicinity to their West India posses 
sions, and to the fisheries, is a bridle which a small naval 
force, on our part, would hold in the mouths of the most 
powerful of these countries. I hope our land office will 
rid us of our debts, and that our first attention then, will 
be, to the beginning, a naval force of some sort. This 
alone can countenance our people as carriers on the water, 
and I suppose them to be determined to continue such. 

On the Superiority of the United States to 

To Mr. Bellini 

PARIS, September 30, 1785. 

Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe ! It 
is not necessary for your information, that I should enter 



into details concerning it. But you are, perhaps, curious 
to know how this new scene has struck a savage of the 
mountains of America. Not advantageously, I assure you. 
I find the general fate of humanity here most deplorable. 
The truth of Voltaire s observation, offers itself perpet 
ually, that every man here must be either the hammer or 
the anvil. It is a true picture of that country to which 
they say we shall pass hereafter, and where we are to see 
God and his angels in splendor, and crowds of the damned 
trampled under their feet. While the great mass of the peo 
ple are thus suffering under physical and moral oppression, 
I have endeavored to examine more nearly the condition 
of the great, to appreciate the true value of the circum 
stances in their situation, which dazzle the bulk of spec 
tators, and, especially, to compare it with that degree of 
happiness which is enjoyed in America, by every class of 
people. Intrigues of love occupy the younger, and those 
of ambition, the elder part of the great. Conjugal love 
having no existence among them, domestic happiness, of 
which that is the basis, is utterly unknown. In lieu of 
this, are substituted pursuits which nourish and invigorate 
all our bad passions, and which offer only moments of 
ecstasy, amid days and months of restlessness and tor 
ment. Much, very much inferior, this, to the tranquil, per 
manent felicity with which domestic society in America 
blesses most of its inhabitants ; leaving them to follow stead 
ily those pursuits which health and reason approve, and 
rendering truly delicious the intervals of those pursuits. 

In science, the mass of the people are two centuries be 
hind ours; their literati, half a dozen years before us. 
Books, really good, acquire just reputation in that time, 
and so become known to us, and communicate to us all their 
advances in knowledge. Is not this delay compensated, by 
our being placed out of the reach of that swarm of nonsen- 



sical publications which issues daily from a thousand 
presses, and perishes almost in issuing? With respect to 
what are termed polite manners, without sacrificing too 
much the sincerity of language, I would wish my country 
men to adopt just so much of European politeness, as to be 
ready to make all those little sacrifices of self, which really 
render European manners amiable, and relieve society from 
the disagreeable scenes to which rudeness often subjects it. 
Here, it seems that a man might pass a life without encoun 
tering a single rudeness. In the pleasures of the table, 
they are far before us, because, with good taste they unite 
temperance. They do not terminate the most sociable meals 
by transforming themselves into brutes. I have never yet 
seen a man drunk in France, even among the lowest of the 
people. Were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy 
their architecture, sculpture, painting, music, I should want 
words. It is in these arts they shine. The last of them, 
particularly, is an enjoyment, the deprivation of which, with 
us, cannot be calculated. I am almost ready to say, it is the 
only thing which from my heart I envy them, and which, 
in spite of all the authority of the Decalogue, I do covet. 
But I am running on in an estimate of things infinitely 
better known to you than to me, and which will only serve 
to convince you, that I have brought with me all the preju 
dices of country, habit, and age. But whatever I may al 
low to be charged to me as prejudice, in every other in 
stance, I have one sentiment, at least, founded on reality: 
it is that of the perfect esteem which your merit and that 
of Mrs. Bellini have produced, and which will forever en 
able me to assure you of the sincere regard with which I 
am, dear sir, your friend and servant. 

! I 


On Education 

To J. Bannister, Jr. 

PARIS, October 15, 1785. 

Let us view the disadvantages of sending a youth to Eu 
rope. To enumerate them all, would require a volume. I 
will select a few. If he goes to England, he learns drink 
ing, horse-racing, and boxing. These are the peculiarities 
of English education. The following circumstances are 
common to education in that, and the other countries of Eu 
rope. He acquires a fondness for European luxury and 
dissipation, and a contempt for the simplicity of his own 
country; he is fascinated with the privileges of the Euro 
pean aristocrats, and sees, with abhorrence, the lovely equal 
ity which the poor enjoy with the rich, in his own country; 
he contracts a partiality for aristocracy or monarchy; he 
forms foreign friendships which will never be useful to 
him, and loses the seasons of life for forming, in his own 
country, those friendships which, of all others, are the most 
faithful and permanent; he is led, by the strongest of all 
the human passions, into a spirit for female intrigue, de 
structive of his own and others happiness, and learns to 
consider fidelity to the marriage-bed as an ungentlemanly 
practice, and inconsistent with happiness ; he recollects the 
voluptuary dress and arts of the European women, and 
pities and despises the chaste affections and simplicity of 
those of his own country; he retains, through life, a fond 
recollection, and a hankering after those places, which were 
the scenes of his first pleasures and of his first connections ; 
he returns to his own country, a foreigner, unacquainted 
with the practices of domestic economy, necessary to pre 
serve him from ruin, speaking and writing his native tongue 



as a foreigner, and therefore unqualified to obtain those dis 
tinctions, which eloquence of the pen and tongue insures 
in a free country; for I would observe to you, that what is 
called style in writing or speaking is formed very early in 
life, while the imagination is warm, and impressions are 
permanent. I am of opinion, that there never was an in 
stance of a man s writing or speaking his native tongue 
with elegance, who passed from fifteen to twenty years of 
age out of the country where it was spoken. Thus, no in 
stance exists of a person s writing two languages perfectly. 
That will always appear to be his native language, which 
was most familiar to him in his youth. It appears to me, 
then, that an American, coming to Europe for education, 
loses in his knowledge, in his morals, in his health, in his 
habits, and in his happiness. I had entertained only doubts 
on this head before I came to Europe: what I see and hear, 
since I came here, proves more than I had even sus 
pected. Cast your eye over America: who are the men of 
most learning, of most eloquence, most beloved by their 
countrymen and most trusted and promoted by them ? 
They are those who have been educated among them, and 
whose manners, morals, and habits, are perfectly homo 
geneous with those of the country. 

To Colonel Monroe 

PARIS, July 9, 1786. 

With respect to the new States, were the question to stand 
simply in this form: How may the ultramontane territory 
be disposed of, so as to produce the greatest and most im 
mediate benefit to the inhabitants of the maritime States of 



the Union? The plan would be more plausible, of laying 
it off into two or three States only. Even on this view, 
however, there would still be something to be said against 
it, which might render it at least doubtful. But that it is a 
question which good faith forbids us to receive into dis 
cussion. This requires us to state the question in its just 
form : How may the Territories of the Union be disposed 
of, so as to produce the greatest degree of happiness to their 
inhabitants? With respect to the maritime States, little or 
nothing remains to be done. With respect, then, to the ul 
tramontane States, will their inhabitants be happiest, di 
vided into States of thirty thousand square miles, not quite 
as large as Pennsylvania, or into States of one hundred and 
sixty thousand square miles, each, that is to say, three times 
as large as Virginia within the Alleghany? They will not 
only be happier in States of moderate size, but it is the only 
way in which they can exist as a regular society. Consid 
ering the American character in general, that of those peo 
ple particularly, and the energetic nature of our govern 
ments, a State of such extent as one hundred and sixty 
thousand square miles, would soon crumble into little ones. 
These are the circumstances which reduce the Indians to 
such small societies. They would produce an effect on our 
people, similar to this. They would not be broken into such 
small pieces, because they are more habituated to subordi 
nation, and value more a government of regular law. But 
you would surely reverse the nature of things, in making 
small States on the ocean, and large ones beyond the moun 
tains. If we could, in our consciences, say, that great 
States beyond the mountains will make the people happiest, 
we must still ask, whether they will be contented to be laid 
off into large States ? They certainly will not ; and, if they 
decide to divide themselves, we are not able to restrain 
them. They will end by separating from our confederacy. 



and becoming its enemies. We had better, then, look for 
ward, and see what will be the probable course of things. 
This will surely be a division of that country into States 
of a small, or, at most, of a moderate size. If we lay them 
off into such, they will acquiesce, and we shall have the ad 
vantage of arranging them, so as to produce the best combi 
nations of interest. What Congress have already done in 
this matter is an argument the more in favor of the revolt 
of those States against a different arrangement, and of 
their acquiescence under a continuance of that. Upon this 
plan, we treat them as fellow-citizens; they will have a just 
share in their own government; they will love us, and pride 
themselves in an union with us. Upon the other, we treat 
them as sub j ects ; we govern them, and not they themselves ; 
they will abhor us as masters, and break off from us in 

Doctrine of Force in Barbary States 

PARIS, August 11, 1786. 

There is little prospect of accommodation between the 
Algerines, and the Portuguese and Neapolitans. A very val 
uable capture, too, lately made by them on the Empress of 
Russia, bids fair to draw her on them. The probability is, 
therefore, that these three nations will be at war with them, 
and the probability is, that could we furnish a couple of 
frigates, a convention might be formed with those powers 
establishing a perpetual cruise on the coast of Algiers, 
which would bring them to reason. Such a convention, be 
ing left open to all powers willing to come into it, should 
have for its object a general peace, to be guaranteed to 



each, by the whole. Were only two or three to begin a con 
federacy of this kind, I think every power in Europe would 
soon fall into it, except France, England, and perhaps 
Spain and Holland. Of these, there is only England, who 
would give any real aid to the Algerines. Morocco, you 
perceive, will be at peace with us. Were the honor and 
advantage of establishing such a confederacy out of the 
question, yet the necessity that the United States should 
have some marine force, and the happiness of this, as the 
ostensible cause for beginning it, would decide on its pro 
priety. It will be said, there is no money in the Treasury. 
There never will be money in the Treasury, till the confed 
eracy shows its teeth. The States must see the rod; per 
haps it must be felt by some one of them. I am persuaded, 
all of them would rejoice to see every one obliged to fur 
nish its contributions. It is not the difficulty of furnishing 
them, which beggars the Treasury, but the fear that others 
will not furnish as much. Every rational citizen must wish 
to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear 
to see it on any other element than the water. A naval 
force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion blood 
shed ; a land force would do both. It is not in the choice 
of the States, whether they will pay money to cover their 
trade against the Algerines. If they obtain a peace by 
negotiation, they must pay a great sum of money for it; 
if they do nothing, they must pay a great sum of money, in 
the form of insurance; and in either way, as great a one as 
in the way of force, and probably less effectual. 


On the Cincinnati 

To General Washington 

PARIS, November 14, 1786. 

The author of the political part of the "Encyclopedic 
Methodique" desired me to examine his article, "Etats 
Unis." I did so. I found it a tissue of errors, for, in 
truth, they know nothing about us here. Particularly, how 
ever, the article "Cincinnati" was a mere philippic against 
that institution, in which it appeared that there was an 
utter ignorance of facts and motives. I gave him notes on 
it. He reformed it, as he supposed, and sent it again to 
me to revise. In this reformed state, Colonel Humphreys 
saw it. I found it necessary to write that article for him. 
Before I gave it to him, I showed it to the Marquis de La 
Fayette, who made a correction or two. I then sent it to 
the author. He used the materials, mixing a great deal of 
his own with them. In a work, which is sure of going 
down to the latest posterity, I thought it material to set 
facts to rights as much as possible. The author was well 
disposed, but could not entirely get the better of his origi 
nal bias. I send you the article as ultimately published. 
If you find any material errors in it, and will be so good as 
to inform me of them, I shall probably have opportunities 
of setting this author to rights. What has heretofore 
passed between us on this institution, makes -it my duty to 
mention to you, that I have never heard a person in Europe, 
learned or unlearned, express his thoughts on this institu 
tion, who did not consider it as dishonorable and destructive 
to our governments ; and that every writing which has 
come out since my arrival here, in which it is mentioned, 
considers it, even as now reformed, as the germ whose de- 


velopment is one day to destroy the fabric we have reared. 
I did not apprehend this, while I had American ideas only. 
But I confess that what I have seen in Europe has brought 
me over to that opinion ; and that though the day may be at 
some distance, beyond the reach of our lives, perhaps, yet 
it will certainly come, when a single fibre left of this in 
stitution will produce an hereditary aristocracy, which will 
change the form of our governments from the best to the 
worst in the world. To know the mass of evil which flows 
from this fatal source, a person must be in France; he must 
see the finest soil, the finest climate, the most compact State, 
the most benevolent character of people, and every earthly 
advantage combined, insufficient to prevent this scourge 
from rendering existence a curse to twenty-four out of 
twenty-five parts of the inhabitants of this country. With 
us, the branches of this institution cover all the States. The 
Southern ones, at this time, are aristocratical in their dis 
positions; and that that spirit should grow and extend it 
self, is within the natural order of things. I do not flatter 
myself with the immortality of our governments, but I 
shall think little also of their longevity, unless this germ 
of destruction be taken out. When the society themselves 
shall weigh the possibility of evil, against the impossibility 
of any good to proceed from this institution, I cannot help 
hoping they will eradicate it. I know they wish the perma 
nence of our governments, as much as any individuals com 
posing them. 



On the Simple Life 

To Colonel Monroe 

PARIS, December 18,, 1786. 

You wish not to engage in the drudgery of the bar. You 
have two asylums from that. Either to accept a seat in the 
Council, or in the judiciary department. The latter, how 
ever, would require a little previous drudgery at the bar, 
to qualify you to discharge your duty with satisfaction to 
j ourself. Neither of these would be inconsistent with a 
continued residence in Albemarle. It is but twelve hours 
drive in a sulky from Charlottesville to Richmond, keeping 
a fresh horse always at the half-way, which would be a 
small annual expense. I am in hopes that Mrs. M. will 
have in her domestic cares, occupation and pleasure, suffi 
cient to fill her time, and insure her against the tedium mtae; 
that she will find, that the distractions of a town, and the 
waste of life under these, can bear no comparison with the 
tranquil happiness of domestic life. If her own experience 
has not yet taught her this truth, she has in its favor the 
testimony of one who has gone through the various scenes 
of business, of bustle, of office, of rambling, and of quiet 
retirement, and who can assure her, that the latter is the 
only point upon which the mind can settle at rest. Though 
not clear of inquietudes, because no earthly situation is so, 
they are fewer in number, and mixed with more objects of 
contentment than in any other mode of life. But I must not 
philosophize too much with her, lest I give her too se 
rious apprehensions of a friendship I shall impose on her. 
I am with very great esteem, dear Sir, your sincere friend 
and servant. 



To Colonel Edward Carrington 

PARIS, January 16, 1787- 

The way to prevent irregular interpositions of the people, 
is to give them full information of their affairs through the 
channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those pa 
pers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The 
basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, 
the very first object should be to keep that right; and were 
it left to me to decide whether we should have a govern 
ment without newspapers, or newspapers without a govern 
ment, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. 
But I should mean that every man should receive those pa 
pers, and be capable of reading them. 

On the Theory of Government and on Louisiana 

To James Madison 

JANUARY 30, 1787. 

Dear Sir: I am impatient to learn your sentiments on 
the late troubles in the Eastern States. So far as I have 
yet seen, they do not appear to threaten serious conse 
quences. Those States have suffered by the stoppage of 
the channels of their commerce, which have not yet found 
other issues. This must render money scarce, and make 
the people uneasy. This uneasiness has produced acts ab 
solutely unjustifiable; but I hope they will provoke no 
severities from their governments. A consciousness of 



those in power that their administration of the public affairs 
has been honest, may, perhaps, produce too great a degree 
of indignation; and those characters, wherein fear predom 
inates over hope, may apprehend too much from these in 
stances of irregularity. They may conclude too hastily, 
that nature has formed man insusceptible of any other gov 
ernment than that of force, a conclusion not founded in 
truth nor experience. Societies exist under three forms, 
sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as 
among our Indians. 2. Under governments, wherein the 
will of every one has a just influence; as is the case in Eng 
land, in a slight degree, and in our States, in a great one. 
3. Under governments of force; as is the case in all other 
monarchies, and in most of the other republics. To have 
an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must 
be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a 
problem, not clear in my mind, that the first condition is 
not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any 
great degree of population. The second state has a great 
deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that, en 
joys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its 
evils, too; the principal of which is the turbulence to which 
it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of 
monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam li- 
bertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is produc 
tive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, 
and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I 
hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good 
thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in 
the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally 
establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, 
which have produced them. An observation of this truth 
should render honest republican governors so mild in their 
punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too 



much. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of 

If these transactions give me no uneasiness, I feel very 
differently at another piece of intelligence, to wit, the pos 
sibility that the navigation of the Mississippi may be aban 
doned to Spain. I never had any interest westward of the 
Alleghany; and I never will have any. But I have had 
great opportunities of knowing the character of the people 
who inhabit that country; and I will venture to say that the 
act which abandons the navigation of the Mississippi is an 
act of separation between the eastern and western country. 
It is a relinquishment of five parts out of eight, of the ter 
ritory of the United States ; an abandonment of the fairest 
subject for the payment of our public debts, and the chain 
ing those debts on our own necks, in perpetuum. I have the 
utmost confidence in the honest intentions of those who con 
cur in this measure ; but I lament their want of acquaintance 
with the character and physical advantages of the people, 
who, right or wrong, will suppose their interest sacrificed 
on this occasion to the contrary interests of that part of the 
confederacy in possession of present power. If they de 
clare themselves a separate people, we are incapable of a 
single effort to retain them. Our citizens can never be in 
duced, either as militia or as soldiers, to go there to cut the 
throats of their own brothers and sons, or rather, to be 
themselves the subjects, instead of the perpetrators of the 
parricide. Nor would that country quit the cost of being 
retained against the will of its inhabitants, could it be done. 
But it cannot be done. They are able already to rescue the 
navigation of the Mississippi out of the hands of Spain, 
and to add New Orleans to their own territory. They will 
be joined by the inhabitants of Louisiana. This will bring 
on a war between them and Spain ; and that will produce the 
question with us, whether it will not be worth our while to 



become parties with them in the war, in order to reunite 
them with us, and thus correct our error? And were I to 
permit my forebodings to go one step further, I should pre 
dict that the inhabitants of the United States would force 
their rulers to take the affirmative of that question. I wish 
I may be mistaken in all these opinions. 

To James Madison 

PARIS, January 30, 1787. 

You know the opinion I formerly entertained of my 
friend, Mr. Adams . . . and the Governor were the first 
who shook that opinion. I afterward saw proofs which 
convicted him of a degree of vanity, and of a blindness to 
it, of which no germ appeared in Congress. A seven months 
intimacy with him here, and as many weeks in London, have 
given me opportunities of studying him closely. He is vain, 
irritable, and a bad calculator of the force and probable ef 
fect of the motives which govern men. This is all the ill 
which can possibly be said of him. He is as disinterested 
as the being who made him: he is profound in his views, 
and accurate in his judgment, except where knowledge of 
the world is necessary to form a judgment. He is so amia 
ble, that I pronounce you will love him, if ever you become 
acquainted with him. He would be, as he was, a great man 
in Congress. 


To Mrs. Bingham 

PARIS, February 7, 1787. 

I know, Madam, that the twelvemonth is not yet expired ; 
but it will be, nearly, before this will have the honor of 
being put into your hands. You are then engaged to tell 
me, truly and honestly, whether you do not find the tran 
quil pleasures of America, preferable to the empty bustle of 
Paris. For, to what does that bustle tend? At eleven 
o clock, it is day, chez madame. The curtains are drawn. 
Propped on bolsters and pillows, and her head scratched 
into a little order, the bulletins of the sick are read, and the 
billets of the well. She writes to some of her acquaintance, 
and receives the visits of others. If the morning is not very 
thronged, she is able to get out and hobble round the cage 
of the Palais Royal; but she must hobble quickly, for the 
coiffeur s turn is come ; and a tremendous turn it is ! Hap 
py, if he does not make her arrive when dinner is half 
over ! The torpitude of digestion a little passed, she flut 
ters half an hour through the streets, by way of paying 
visits, and then to the spectacles. These finished, another 
half hour is devoted to dodging in and out of the doors of 
her very sincere friends, and away to supper. After sup 
per, cards; and after cards, bed; to rise at noon the next 
day, and to tread, like a mill-horse, the same trodden circle 
over again. Thus the days of life are consumed, one by 
one, without an object beyond the present moment; ever fly 
ing from the ennui of that, yet carrying it with us; eter 
nally in pursuit of happiness, which keeps eternally be 
fore us. If death or bankruptcy happen to trip us out of 
the circle, it is matter for the buzz of the evening, and is 



completely forgotten by the next morning. In America, on 
the other hand, the society of your husband, the fond cares 
for the children, the arrangements of the house, the im 
provements of the grounds, fill every moment with a healthy 
and a useful activity. Every exertion is encouraging, be 
cause, to present amusement, it joins the promise of some 
future good. The intervals of leisure are filled by the so 
ciety of real friends, whose affections are not thinned to 
cobweb, by being spread over a thousand objects. This is 
the picture, in the light it is presented to my mind; now let 
me have it in yours. If we do not concur this year, we shall 
the next; or if not then, in a year or two more. You see 
I am determined not to suppose myself mistaken. 

Art et la Politesse 

To Madame la Comtesse de Tesse 

NISMES, March 20, 1787. 

Here I am, Madam, gazing whole hours at the Maison 
Quarree, like a lover at his mistress. The stocking-weavers 
and silk-spinners around it consider me a hypochondriac 
Englishman, about to write with a pistol the last chapter of 
his history. This is the second time I have been in love 
since I left Paris. The first was with a Diana at the Cha 
teau de Laye-Epinaye in Beaujolois, a delicious morsel 
of sculpture, by M. A. Slodtz. This, you will say, was in 
rule, to fall in love with a female beauty ; but with a house ! 
it is out of all precedent. No, Madam, it is not without a 
precedent in my own history. While in Paris, I was vio 
lently smitten with the Hotel de Salm, and used to go to the 
Tuileries almost daily, to look at it. The loueuse des chaises, 
inattentive to my passion, never had the complaisance to 



place a chair there, so that, sitting on the parapet, and 
twisting my neck round to see the object of my admiration, 
I generally left it with a torti-colli. 

From Lyons to Nismes I have been nourished with the 
remains of Roman grandeur. They have always brought 
you to my mind, because I know your affection for what 
ever is Roman and noble. At Vienna I thought of you. 
But I am glad you were not there; for you would have seen 
me more angry than, I hope you will ever see me. The 
Praetorian Palace, as it is called, comparable, for its fine 
proportions, to the Maison Quarree, defaced by the barba 
rians who have converted it to its present purpose, its beau 
tiful fluted Corinthian columns cut out, in part, to make 
space for Gothic windows, and hewed down, in the residue, 
to the plane of the building, was enough, you must admit, 
to disturb my composure. . . . 

Loving, as you do, madam, the precious remains of antiq 
uity, loving architecture, gardening, a warm sun and a clear 
sky, I wonder you have never thought of moving Chaville 
to Nismes. This, as you know, has not always been deemed 
impracticable; and, therefore, the next time a Sur-intendant 
des bailments du roi, after the example of M. Colbert, 
sends persons to Nismes to move the Maison Quarree to 
Paris, that they may not come empty-handed, desire them 
to bring Chaville with them, to replace it. ... 

From a correspondent at Nismes, you will not expect 
news. Were I to attempt to give you news, I should tell 
you stories one thousand years old. I should detail to you 
the intrigues of the courts of the Caesars, how they affect 
us here, the oppressions of their praetors, prefects, etc. I 
am immersed in antiquities from morning to night. For me, 
the city of Rome is actually existing in all the splendor of 
its empire. I am filled with alarms for the event of the ir 
ruptions daily making on us, by the Goths, the Visigoths, 



Ostrogoths, and Vandals, lest they should reconquer us to 
our original barbarism. If I am sometimes induced to look 
forward to the eighteenth century, it is only when recalled 
to it by the recollection of your goodness and friendship, 
and by those sentiments of sincere esteem and respect with 
which I have the honor to be, Madam, your most obedient 
and most humble servant. 

Travel and Science. 

To the Marquis de La Fayette 

APRIL , 1787. 

From the first olive fields of Pierrelatte, to the orange 
ries of Hieres, has been continued rapture to me. I have 
often wished for you. I think you have not made this jour 
ney. It is a pleasure you have to come, and an improve 
ment to be added to the many you have already made. It 
will be a great comfort to you, to know, from your own in 
spection, the condition of all the provinces of your own 
country, and it will be interesting to them at some future 
day, to be known to you. This is, perhaps, the only moment 
of your life in which you can acquire that knowledge. And 
to do it most effectually, you must be absolutely incognito; 
you must ferret the people out of their hovels as I have 
done, look into their kettles, eat their bread, loll on their 
beds under pretence of resting yourself, but in fact to find 
if they are soft. You will feel a sublime pleasure in the 
course of this investigation, and a sublimer one hereafter, 
when you shall be able to apply your knowledge to the soft 
ening of their beds, or the throwing a morsel of meat into 
their kettle of vegetables. 


On Rice Culture 

To Edward Rutledge, Esq. 

PARIS, July 14, 1787. 

Dear Sir: I was glad to find that the adaptation of your 
rice to this market was considered worth attention, as I had 
supposed it. I set out from hence impressed with the idea 
the rice-dealers here had given me, that the difference be 
tween your rice and that of Piedmont proceeded from a dif 
ference in the machine for cleaning it. At Marseilles I 
hoped to know what the Piedmont machine was, but I could 
find nobody who knew anything of it. I determined, there 
fore, to sift the matter to the bottom, by crossing the Alps 
into the rice country. I found their machine exactly such a 
one as you had described to me in Congress in the year 1783. 
There was but one conclusion then to be drawn, to wit, that 
the rice was of a different species, and I determined to take 
enough to put you in seed; they informed me, however, that 
its exportation in the husk was prohibited, so I could only 
bring off as much as my coat and surtout pockets would 
hold. I took measures with a muleteer to run a couple of 
sacks across the Apennines to Genoa, but have not great 
dependence on its success. The little, therefore, which I 
brought myself, must be relied on for fear we should get no 
more; and because, also, it is genuine from Vercilli, where 
the best is made of all the Sardinian Lombardy, the whole 
of which is considered as producing a better rice than the 


On the Suppression of the Slave Trade 

To Edward Rutledge, Esq. 

PARIS, July 14, 1787. 

I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your 
State, for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the 
glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent 
it forever. This abomination must have an end. And there 
is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who 
hasten it. 

On the National Character 

PARIS, July 28, 1787. 

Among many good qualities which my countrymen pos 
sess, some of a different character unhappily mix themselves. 
The most remarkable are, indolence, extravagance, and infi 
delity to their engagements. Cure the two first, and the 
last would disappear, because it is a consequence of them, 
and not proceeding from a want of morals. I know of no 
remedy against indolence and extravagance but a free 
course of justice. Everything else is merely palliative; but 
unhappily, the evil has gained too generally the mass of the 
nation, to leave the course of justice unobstructed. The 
maxim of buying nothing without the money in our pockets 
to pay for it, would make of our country one of the happiest 
upon earth. Experience during the war proved this; as I 
think every man will remember, that under all the priva 
tions it obliged him to submit to, during that period, he 



slept sounder, and awaked happier than he can do now. 
Desperate of finding relief from a free course of justice, I 
look forward to the abolition of all credit, as the only other 
remedy which can take place. I have seen, therefore, with 
pleasure, the exaggerations of our want of faith, with Avhich 
the London papers teem. It is, indeed, a strong medicine 
for sensible minds, but it is a medicine. It will prevent 
their crediting us abroad, in which case we cannot be cred 
ited at home. 

Division of Authority in Government 

To Edward Carrington 

PARIS, August 4, 1787. 

My general plan would be, to make the States one as to 
everything connected with foreign nations, and several as 
to everything purely domestic. But with all the imperfec 
tions of our present government, it is without comparison 
the best existing, or that ever did exist. Its greatest defect 
is the imperfect manner in which matters of commerce have 
been provided for. It has been so often said, as to be gen 
erally believed, that Congress have no power by the Con 
federation to enforce anything; for example, contributions 
of money. It was not necessary to give them that power ex 
pressly; they have it by the law of nature. When two par 
ties make a compact, there results to each a power of com 
pelling the other to execute it. Compulsion was never so 
easy as in our case, where a single frigate would soon levy 
on the commerce of any State the deficiency of its contribu 
tions ; nor more safe than in the hands of Congress, which 
has always shown that it would wait, as it ought to do, to 
the last extremities, before it would execute any of its pow- 



ers which are disagreeable. I think it very material to sep 
arate, in the hands of Congress, the executive and legisla 
tive powers, as the judiciary already are, in some degree. 
This, I hope, will be done. The want of it has been the 
source of more evil than we have experienced from any 
other cause. Nothing is so embarrassing or so mischiev 
ous, in a great assembly, as the details of execution. The 
smallest trifle of that kind occupies as long as the most im 
portant act of legislation, and takes place of everything 
else. Let any man recollect, or look over, the files of Con 
gress ; he will observe the most important propositions 
hanging over, from week to week, and month to month, till 
the occasions have passed them and the things never done. 
I have ever viewed the executive details as the greatest cause 
of evil to us, because they in fact place us as if we had no 
federal head, by diverting the attention of that head from 
great to small subj ects ; and should this division of power 
not be recommended by the convention, it is my opinion 
Congress should make it itself by establishing an executive 

In Defence of Rebellions 

To Colonel Smith 

PARIS, November 13, 1787. 

Where did it [anarchy] ever exist, except in the single 
instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an 
instance of rebellion so honorably conducted? I say noth 
ing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not 
wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years 
without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and 
always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be 



discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts 
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such miscon 
ceptions, it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the 
public liberty. We have had thirteen States independent 
for eleven years. There has been one rebellion. That 
comes to one rebellion in a century and a half, for each 
State. What country before, ever existed a century and a 
half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve 
its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, 
that this people preserve the spirit of resistance ? Let them 
take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, 
pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in 
a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed 
from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. 
It is its natural manure. Our convention has been too 
much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusetts ; and 
on the spur of the moment, they are setting up a kite to 
keep the hen-yard in order. 

On Emancipating Slaves 

To Edward "Bancroft 

PARIS, January 26, 1788. 

Dear Sir: I have deferred answering your letter on the 
subject of slaves because you permitted me to do it till a 
moment of leisure, and that moment rarely comes, and be 
cause, too, I could not answer you with such a degree of cer 
tainty as to merit any notice. I do not recollect the con 
versation at Vincennes to which you allude, but can repeat 
still, on the same ground on which I must have done then, 
that as far as I can judge from the experiments which 



have been made, to give liberty to, or rather abandon, per 
sons whose habits have been formed in slavery is like aban 
doning children. Many Quakers in Virginia seated their 
slaves on their lands as tenants ; they were distant from me, 
and therefore I cannot be particular in the details because 
I never had very particular information. I cannot say 
whether they were to pay a rent in money or a share of the 
produce, but I remember that the landlord was obliged to 
plan their crops for them, to direct all their operations dur 
ing every season and according to the weather; but, what 
is more afflicting, he was obliged to watch them daily and 
almost constantly to make them work and even to whip them. 
A man s moral sense must be unusually strong if slavery 
does not make him a thief. He who is permitted by law to 
have no property of his own can with difficulty conceive 
that property is founded on anything but force. These 
slaves chose to steal from their neighbors rather than work; 
they became public nuisances, and in most instances were re 
duced to slavery again. But I will beg of you to make no 
use of this imperfect information (unless in common con 
versation). I shall go to America in the spring and return 
in the fall. During my stay in Virginia I shall be in the 
neighborhood where many of these trials were made. I 
will inform myself very particularly of them and communi 
cate the information to you. 

Besides these there is an instance since I came away of a 
young man (Mr. Mays) who died and gave freedom to all 
his slaves, about 200; this is about a year ago. I shall 
know how they have turned out. Notwithstanding the dis 
couraging result of these experiments I am decided on my 
final return to America to try this one. I shall endeavor to 
import as many Germans as I have grown slaves. I will 
settle them and my slaves on farms of fifty acres each, in 
termingled, and place all on the footing of the Metayers 



(Medictani) of Europe. Their children shall be brought 
up as others are in habits of property and foresight, and I 
have no doubt but that they will be good citizens. Some of 
their fathers will be so ; others I suppose will need govern 
ment; with these all that can be done is to oblige them to., 
labor as the laboring poor of Europe do, and to apply to, 
their comfortable subsistence the produce of their labor, re 
taining such a moderate portion of it as may be a just equiv 
alent for the use of the lands they labor and the stocks and 
other necessary advances. 

Philosophy of Life 

To Alexander Donald 

PARIS, February 7, 1788. 

I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage, with my 
books, my family, and a few old friends, dining on simple 
bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to oc 
cupy the most splendid post, which any human power can 
give. I shall be glad to hear from you often. Give me the 
small news as well as the great. Tell Dr. Currie, that I be 
lieve I am indebted to him in a letter, but that like the mass 
of our countrymen, I am not, at this moment, able to pay all 
my debts. 

On the Adoption of the Constitution 

To Mr. A. Donald 

FEBRUARY, 1788. 

I wish with all my soul, that the nine first conventions 
mav accept the new Constitution, because this will secure to 



us the good it contains, which I think great and important. 
But I equally wish, that the four latest conventions, which 
ever they be, may refuse to accede to it, till a declaration 
of rights be annexed. This would probably command the 
offer of such a declaration, and thus give to the whole fab 
ric, perhaps, as much perfection as any one of that kind 
ever had. By a declaration of rights, I mean one which 
shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, 
freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in 
all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing 
armies. These are fetters against doing evil, which no 
honest government should decline. There is another strong 
feature in the new Constitution, which I as strongly dislike. 
That is, the perpetual reeligibility of the President. Of 
this I expect no amendment at present, because I do not see 
that anybody has objected to it on your side the water. 
But it will be productive of cruel distress to our country, 
even in your day and mine. The importance to France and 
England, to have our government in the hands of a friend 
or a foe, will occasion their interference by money, and even 
by arms. Our President will be of much more consequence 
to them than a King of Poland. We must take care, how 
ever, that neither this, nor any other objection to the new 
form, produces a schism in our Union. That would be an 
incurable evil, because near friends falling out, never re 
unite cordially ; whereas, all of us going together, we shall 
be sure to cure the evils of our new Constitution, before 
they do great harm. 



Potomac Canal European Affairs The 

To General Washington 

PARIS, May 2, 1788. 

Dear Sir: I am honored with your Excellency s letter by 
the last packet, and thank you for the information it con 
tains on the communication between the Cayahoga and Big 
Beaver. I have ever considered the opening a canal be 
tween those two watercourses as the most important work 
in that line which the State of Virginia could undertake. 
It will infallibly turn through the Potomac all the com 
merce of Lake Erie, and the country west of that, except 
what may pass down the Mississippi; and it is important 
that it be soon done, lest that commerce should, in the 
meantime, get established in another channel. Having, in 
the spring of the last year, taken a journey through the 
southern parts of France, and particularly examined the 
canal of Languedoc, through its whole course, I take the lib 
erty of sending you the notes I made on the spot, as you 
may find in them something, perhaps, which may be turned 
to account, some time or other, in the prosecution of the 
Potomac canal. Being merely a copy from my travelling 
notes, they are undigested and imperfect, but may still 
perhaps give hints capable of improvement in your 
mind. . . . 

I had intended to have written a word to your Excellency 
on the subject of the new Constitution, but I have already 
spun out my letter to an immoderate length. I will just ob 
serve, therefore, that according to my ideas, there is a great 
deal of good in it. There are two things, however, which I 
dislike strongly: 1. The want of a declaration of rights. I 


am in hopes the opposition of Virginia will remedy this, and 
produce such a declaration. 2. The perpetual reeligibility 
of the President. This,, I fear, will make that an office for 
life, first, and then hereditary. I was much an enemy to 
monarchies before I came to Europe. I am ten thousand 
times more so, since I have seen what they are. There is 
scarcely an evil known in these countries, which may not 
be traced to their king, as its source, nor a good, which is 
not derived from the small fibres of republicanism existing 
among them. I can further say, with safety, there is not a 
crowned head in Europe, whose talents or merits would en 
title him to be elected a vestryman by the people of any 
parish in America. However, I shall hope, that before there 
is danger of this change taking place in the office of Presi 
dent, the good sense and free spirit of our countrymen, will 
make the changes necessary to prevent it. 

National Credit 

To Mr. James Madison 

PARIS, May 3, 1788. 

Dear Sir: The existence of a nation having no credit is 
always precarious. The credit of England is the best. 
Their paper sells at par on the exchange of Amsterdam the 
moment any of it is offered, and they can command there 
any sum they please. The reason is, that they never borrow, 
without establishing taxes for the payment of the interest, 
and they never yet failed one day in that payment. The 
Emperor and Empress have good credit enough. They use 
it little and have been ever punctual. This country cannot 
borrow at all there; for, though they always pay their in 
terest within the year, yet it is often some months behind. 



It is difficult to assign to our credit its exact station in this 
scale. They consider us as the most certain nation on earth 
for the principal, but they see that we borrow of them 
selves to pay the interest, so that this is only a conversion 
of their interest into principal. Our paper, for this reason, 
sells for from four to eight per cent, below par, on the ex 
change, and our loans are negotiated with the Patriots only. 
But the whole body of money-dealers, Patriot and Stadt- 
holderian, look forward to our new government with a great 
degree of partiality and interest. They are disposed to have 
much confidence in it, and it was the prospect of its estab 
lishment, which enabled us to set the loan of last year into 
motion again. They will attend steadfastly to its first 
money operations. If these are injudiciously begun, cor 
rection, whenever they shall be corrected, will come too late. 
Our borrowings will always be difficult and disadvantageous. 
If they begin well, our credit will immediately take the first 
station. Equal provision for the interest, adding to it a cer 
tain prospect for the principal, will give us a preference to 
all nations, the English not excepted. The first act of the 
new government should be some operation, whereby they 
may assume to themselves this station. Their European 
debts form a proper subject for this. Digest the whole, 
public and private, Dutch, French, and Spanish, into a table, 
showing the sum of interest due every year, and the portions 
of principal payable the same year. Take the most certain 
branch of revenue, and one which shall suffice to pay the in 
terest, and leave such a surplus as may accomplish all the 
payments of the capital, at terms somewhat short of those 
at which they will become due. Let the surpluses of those 
years, in which no reimbursement of principal falls, be ap 
plied to buy up our paper on the exchange of Amsterdam, 
and thus anticipate the demands of principal. In this way, 
our paper will be kept up at par; and this alone will enable 



us to command in four and twenty hours, at any time, on 
the exchange of Amsterdam, as many millions as that capi 
tal can produce. The same act which makes this provision 
for the existing debts, should go on to open a loan to their 
whole amount; the produce of that loan to be applied, as 
fast as received, to the payment of such parts of the exist 
ing debts as admit of payment. The rate of interest to be 
as the government should privately instruct their agent, be 
cause it must depend on the effect these measures would 
have on the exchange. Probably it could be lowered from 
time to time. Honest and annual publications of the pay 
ments made will inspire confidence, while silence would con 
ceal nothing from those interested to know. 

Navigation of the Mississippi 

To John Brown 

PARIS, May 26, 1788. 

Dear Sir: The navigation of the Mississippi was, per 
haps, the strongest trial to which the justice of the federal 
government could be put. If ever they thought wrong 
about it, I trust they have got to rights, I should think it 
proper for the western country to defer pushing their right 
to that navigation to extremity, as long as they can do with 
out it tolerably; but that the moment it becomes absolutely 
necessary for them, it will become the duty of the maritime 
States to push it to every extremity, to which they would 
their own right of navigating the Chesapeake, the Delaware, 
the Hudson, or any other water. A time of peace will not 
be the surest for obtaining this object. Those, therefore, 
who have influence in the new country, would act wisely to 



endeavor to keep things quiet till the western parts of Eu 
rope shall be engaged in war. 

On Foreign Affairs Commerce 

To General Washington 

PARIS, December 4, 1788. 

Sir: I have seen, with infinite pleasure, our new Consti 
tution accepted by eleven States, not rejected by the 
twelfth, and that the thirteenth happens to be a State of 
the least importance. It is true, that the minorities in most 
of the accepting States have been very respectable ; so much 
so as to render it prudent, were it not otherwise reasonable, 
to make some sacrifice to them. I am in hopes, that the an 
nexation of a bill of rights to the Constitution will alone 
draw over so great a proportion of the minorities as to leave 
little danger in the opposition of the residue; and that this 
annexation may be made by Congress and the Assemblies, 
without calling a convention, which might endanger the 
most valuable parts of the system. Calculation has con 
vinced me that circumstances may arise, and probably will 
arise, wherein all the resources of taxation will be necessary 
for the safety of the State. For though I am decidedly of 
opinion we should take no part in European quarrels, but 
cultivate peace and commerce with all, yet who can avoid 
seeing the source of war, in the tyranny of those nations, 
who deprive us of the natural right of trading with our 
neighbors? The produce of the United States will soon 
exceed the European demand; what is to be done with the 
surplus, when there shall be one? It will be employed, 
without question, to open, by force, a market for itself, 
with those placed on the same continent with us, and who 


wish nothing better. Other causes, too, are obvious, which 
may involve us in war, and war requires every resource of 
taxation and credit. The power of making war often pre 
vents it, and in our case would give efficacy to our desire of 
peace. If the new government wears the front which I 
hope it will, I see no impossibility in the availing ourselves 
of the wars of others, to open the other parts of America to 
our commerce, as the price of our neutrality. . . . 

In every event, I think the present disquiet will end 
well. The nation [France] has been awaked by our 
Revolution, they feel their strength, they are enlight 
ened, their lights are spreading, and they will not retro 
grade. The first States-General may establish three im 
portant points, without opposition from the court: 1. Their 
own periodical convocation. 2. Their exclusive right of 
taxation (which has been confessed by the king). 3. The 
right of registering laws, and of previously proposing 
amendments to them, as the parliaments have, by usurpation, 
been in the habit of doing. The court will consent to this, 
from its hatred to the parliaments, and from the desire of 
having to do with one, rather than many legislatures. If the 
States are prudent, they will not aim at more than this at 
first, lest they should shock the dispositions of the court, and 
even alarm the public mind, which must be left to open itself 
by degrees to successive improvements. These will follow, 
from the nature of things ; how far they can proceed, in the 
end, toward a thorough reformation of abuse, cannot be 
foreseen. In my opinion, a kind of influence which none of 
their plans of reform take into account, will elude them all ; 
I mean the influence of women, in the Government. The 
manners of the nation allow them to visit, alone, all persons 
in office, to solicit the affairs of the husband, family, or 
friends, and their solicitations bid defiance to laws and reg 
ulations. This obstacle may seem less to those who, like 



our countrymen, are in the precious habit of considering 
right, as a barrier against all solicitation. Nor can such an 
one, without the evidence of his own eyes, believe in the des 
perate state to which things are reduced in this country from 
the omnipotence of an influence which, fortunately for the 
happiness of the sex itself, does not endeavor to extend it 
self in our country beyond the domestic line. . . . 

I have laid my shoulder to the opening of the markets of 
this country to our produce, and rendering its transporta 
tion a nursery for our seamen. A maritime force is the 
only one, by which we can act on Europe. Our navigation 
law (if it be wise to have any) should be the reverse of that 
of England. Instead of confining importations to home- 
bottoms, or those of the producing nation, I think we should 
confine exhortations to home-bottoms, or to those of nations 
having treaties with us. Our exportations are heavy, and 
would nourish a great force of our own, or be a tempting 
price to the nation to whom we should offer a participation 
of it, in exchange for free access to all their possessions. 
This is an object to which our Government alone is ade 
quate, in the gross; but I have ventured to pursue it here, 
so far as the consumption of our productions by this coun 
try extends. Thus, in our arrangements relative to tobacco, 
none can be received here, but in French or American bot 
toms. This is employment for near two thousand sea 
men, and puts nearly that number of British out of employ. 
By the Arret of December, 1787, it was provided, that our 
whale oils should not be received here, but in French or 
American bottoms ; and by later regulations, all oils, but 
those of France and America, are excluded. This will put 
one hundred English whale vessels immediately out of em 
ploy, and one hundred and fifty erelong, and call so many 
of French and American into service. We have had six 
thousand seamen formerly in this business, the whole of 



whom we have been likely to lose. The consumption of rice 
is growing fast in this country, and that of Carolina gain 
ing ground on every other kind. I am of opinion, the whole 
of the Carolina rice can be consumed here. Its transporta 
tion employs two thousand five hundred sailors, almost all of 
them English at present, the rice being deposited at Cowes, 
and brought from thence here. It would be dangerous to 
confine this transportation to French and American bottoms, 
the ensuing year, because they will be much engrossed by 
the transportation of wheat and flour hither, and the crop 
of rice might lie on hand for want of vessels ; but I see no 
objections to the extensions of our principle to this article 
also, beginning with the year 1790. 

American Influence on the French Revolution 

To Dr. Price 

PARIS, January 8, 1789. 

You say you are not sufficiently informed about the nature 
and circumstances of the present struggle here. Having 
been on the spot from its first origin, and watched its move 
ments as an uninterested spectator, with no other bias than 
a love of mankind, I will give you my ideas of it. Though 
celebrated writers of this and other countries had already 
sketched good principles on the subject of government, yet 
the American war seems first to have awakened the think 
ing part of this nation in general from the sleep of despot 
ism in which they were sunk. The officers, too, who had 
been to America, were mostly young men, less shackled by 
habit and prejudice, and more ready to assent to the dictates 
of common sense and common right. They came back im 
pressed with these. The press, notwithstanding its shack- 


les, began to disseminate them ; conversation, too, assumed 
new freedom; politics became the theme of all societies, 
male and female, and a very extensive and zealous party 
was formed, which may be called the Patriotic party, who, 
sensible of the abusive government under which they lived, 
longed for occasions of reforming it. This party compre 
hended all the honesty of the kingdom, sufficiently at its 
leisure to think; the men of letters, the easy bourgeois, the 
young nobility, partly from reflection, partly from mode; 
for those sentiments became a matter of mode, and as such 
united most of the young women to the party. 

On Parti/ 

To Francis Hopkinson 

PARIS, March 13, 1789. 

I am not a federalist, because I never submitted the 
whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of 
men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in 
anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. 
Such an addiction, is the last degradation of a free and 
moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, 
I would not go there at all. Therefore, I am not of the 
party of federalists. But I am much farther from that 
of the antifederalists. ... I am neither federalist nor 
antif ederalist ; I am of neither party, nor yet a trimmer 
between parties. ... I never had an opinion in politics 
or religion, which I was afraid to own. A costive reserve 
on these subjects might have procured me more esteem from 
some people, but less from myself. My great wish is, to go 
on in a strict but silent performance of my duty; to avoid 
attracting notice, and to keep my name out of newspapers, 



because I find the pain of a little censure, even when it is 
unfounded, is more acute than the pleasure of much praise. 

On the Character of Washington 

To Francis Hopklnson 

PARIS, March 13, 1789. 

I would wish it [the Constitution] not to be altered dur 
ing the life of our great leader, whose executive talents are 
superior to those, I believe, of any man in the world, and 
who, alone, by the authority of his name and the confidence 
reposed in his perfect integrity, is fully qualified to put the 
new government so under way, as to secure it against the 
efforts of opposition. But, having derived from our error 
all the good there was in it, I hope we shall correct it, the 
moment we can no longer have the same name at the helm. 

To General Washington 

PARIS, May 10, 1789- 

Sir: The details you are so good as to give me on the 
subject of the navigation of the waters of the Potomac and 
Ohio, are very pleasing to me, as I consider the union of 
these two rivers, as among the strongest links of connection 
between the eastern and western sides of our confederacy. 
It will, moreover, add to the commerce of Virginia, in par 
ticular, all the upper parts of the Ohio and its waters. An 
other vast object, and of much less difficulty, is to add. also, 
all the country on the lakes and their waters. This would 



enlarge our field immensely, and would certainly be effected 
by a union of the upper waters of the Ohio and Lake Erie. 
The Big Beaver and Cuyahoga offer the most direct line, 
and according to information I received from General 
Hand, and which I had the honor of writing you in the year 
1783, the streams in that neighborhod head in lagoons, and 
the country is flat. With respect to the doubts which you 
say are entertained by some, whether the upper waters of 
Potomac can be rendered capable of navigation on account 
of the falls and rugged banks, they are answered, by ob 
serving, that it is reduced to a maxim, that whenever there is 
water enough to float a bateau there may be navigation for 
a bateau. Canals and locks may be necessary, and they are 
expensive, but I hardly know what expense would be too 
great, for the object in question. Probably, negotiations 
with the Indians, perhaps even settlement, must precede 
the execution of the Cuyahoga Canal. The States of Mary 
land and Virginia should make a common object of it. The 
navigation, again, between Elizabeth River and the Sound, 
is of vast importance, and in my opinion, it is much better 
that these should be done at public than private expense. 

On Political Consistency 

To General Washington 

PARIS, May 10, 178Q. 

I am in great pain for the Marquis de La Fayette. His 
principles, you know, are clearly with the people; but 
having been elected for the Noblesse of Auvergne, they 
have laid him under express instructions, to vote for the de 
cision by orders and not persons. This would ruin him with 
the Tiers Etat, and it is not possible he could continue long 



to give satisfaction to the Noblesse. I have not hesitated to 
press on him to burn his instructions, and follow his con 
science as the only sure clew, which will eternally guide a 
man clear of all doubts and inconsistencies. If he cannot 
effect a conciliatory plan, he will surely take his stand man 
fully, at once with the Tiers Etat. He will in that case be 
what he pleases with them, and I am in hopes that base is 
now too solid to render it dangerous to be mounted on it. 

On Ms Appointment as Secretary of State 

To the President 

CHESTERFIELD, December 15, 1789. 

Sir: I have received at this place the honor of your let 
ters of October the 13th and November the 30th, and am 
truly flattered by your nomination of me to the very digni 
fied office of Secretary of State; for which, permit me here 
to return you my humble thanks. Could any circumstance 
seduce me to overlook the disproportion between its duties 
and my talents, it would be the encouragement of your 
choice. But when I contemplate the extent of that office, 
embracing as it does the principal mass of domestic admin 
istration, together with the foreign, I cannot be insensible 
of my inequality to it ; and I should enter on it with gloomy 
forebodings from the criticisms and censures of a public, 
just indeed in their intentions, but sometimes misinformed 
and misled, and always too respectable to be neglected. I 
c.innot but foresee the possibility that this may end disa 
greeably for me, who, having no motive to public service but 
the public satisfaction, would certainly retire the moment 
that satisfaction should appear to languish. On the other 
hand, I feel a degree of familiarity with the duties of my 



present office, as far at least as I am capable of understand 
ing its duties. The ground I have already passed over, en 
ables me to see my way into that which is before me. The 
change of government, too, taking place in a country where 
it is exercised, seems to open a possibility of procuring 
from the new rulers, some new advantages in commerce 
which may be agreeable to our countrymen. So that as far 
as my fears, my hopes, or my inclinations might enter into 
this question, I confess they would not lead me to prefer a 

But it is not for an individual to choose his post. You 
are to marshal us as may best be for the public good; and 
it is only in the case of its being indifferent to you that I 
would avail myself of the option you have so kindly offered 
in your letter. If you think it better to transfer me to an 
other post, my inclination must be no obstacle; nor shall it 
be, if there is any desire to suppress the office I now hold, 
or to reduce its grade. In either of these cases, be so good 
only as to signify to me by another line your ultimate wish, 
and I shall conform to it cordially. If it should be to re 
main at New York, my chief comfort will be to work under 
your eye, my only shelter the authority of your name, and 
the wisdom of measures to be dictated by you and implicitly 
executed by me. Whatever you may be pleased to decide, I 
do not see that the matters which have called me hither, will 
permit me to shorten the stay I originally asked; that is to 
say, to set out on my journey northward till the month of 
March. As early as possible in that month, I shall have the 
honor of paying my respects to you in New York. In the 
meantime, I have that of tendering you the homage of 
those sentiments of respectful attachment with which I am, 
Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant. 



On Hamilton s Finance Post-roads 

To James Madison 

MONTICELLO, March 6, 1790. 

Dear Sir: I do not at all wonder at the condition in 
which the finances of the United States are found. Hamil 
ton s object from the beginning, was to throw them into 
forms which should be utterly undecipherable. I ever said 
he did not understand their condition himself, nor was 
able to give a clear view of the excess of our debts beyond 
our credits, nor whether we were diminishing or increasing 
the debt. My own opinion was, that from the commence 
ment of this Government to the time I ceased to attend to 
the subject, we had been increasing our debt about a million 
of dollars annually. If Mr. Gallatin would undertake to 
reduce this chaos to order, present us with a clear view of 
our finances, and put them into a form as simple as they 
will admit, he will merit immortal honor. The accounts of 
the United States ought to be, and may be made as simple 
as those of a common farmer, and capable of being under 
stood by common farmers. . . . 

P. S. Have you considered all the consequences of your 
proposition respecting post-roads? I view it as a source 
of boundless patronage to the Executive, jobbing to mem 
bers of Congress and their friends, and a bottomless abyss 
of public money. You will begin by only appropriating 
the surplus of the post-office revenues ; but the other reve 
nues will soon be called into their aid, and it will be a source 
of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the 
most money wasted in their State; and they will always get 
most who are meanest. We have thought, hitherto, that the 
roads of a State could not be so well administered even by 



the State legislature as by the magistracy of the county, on 
the spot. How will they be when a member of New Hamp 
shire is to mark out a road for Georgia ? Does the power 
to establish post-roads, given you by the Constitution, mean 
that you shall make the roads, or only select from those al 
ready made, those on which there shall be a post? If the 
term be equivocal (and I really do not think it so), which 
is the safest construction? That which permits a majority 
of Congress to go to cutting down mountains and bridging 
of rivers, or the other, which, if too restricted, may be re 
ferred to the States for amendment, securing still due meas 
ures and proportion among us, and providing some means 
of information to the members of Congress tantamount to 
that ocular inspection, which, even in our county determina 
tions, the magistrate finds cannot be supplied by any other 
evidence? The fortification of harbors was liable to great 
objection. But national circumstances furnished some 
color. In this case there is none. The roads of America 
are the best in the world except those of France and Eng 
land. But does the state of our population, the extent of 
our internal commerce, the want of sea and river navigation, 
call for such expense on roads here, or are our means ade 
quate to it? Think of all this, and a great deal more which 
your good judgment will suggest, and pardon my freedom. 

On the Control of the Mississippi 

To William Carmichael 

NEW YORK, August 2, 1790. 

The unsettled state of our dispute with Spain, may give a 
turn to it very different from what we would wish. As it is 
important that you should be fully apprised of our way of 



thinking on this subject, I have sketched, in the enclosed 
paper, general heads of consideration arising from present 
circumstances. These will be readily developed by your 
own reflections, and in conversations with Colonel Hum 
phreys, who, possessing the sentiments of the executive on 
this subject, being well acquainted with the circumstances 
of the Western country in particular, and of the state of 
our affairs in general, comes to Madrid expressly for the 
purpose of giving you a thorough communication of them. 
He will, therefore, remain there as many days or weeks as 
may be necessary for this purpose. With this information, 
written and oral, you will be enabled to meet the minister 
in conversations on the subject of the navigation of the Mis 
sissippi, to which we wish you to lead his attention imme 
diately. Impress him thoroughly with the necessity of an 
early, and even an immediate settlement of this matter, and 
of a return to the field of negotiation for this purpose; and 
though it must be done delicately, yet he must be made to 
understand unequivocally that a resumption of the negotia 
tion is not desired on our part, unless he can determine, in 
the first opening of it, to yield the immediate and full en 
joyment of that navigation. (I say nothing of the claims 
of Spain to our territory north of the thirty-first degree, and 
east of the Mississippi. They never merited the respect of 
an answer; and you know it has been admitted at Madrid, 
that they were not to be maintained.) It may be asked, 
What need of negotiation, if the navigation is to be ceded at 
all events ? You know that the navigation cannot be prac 
tised without a port, where the sea and river vessels may 
meet and exchange loads, and where those employed about 
them may be safe and unmolested. The right to use a thing, 
comprehends a right to the means necessary to its use, and 
without which it would be useless. The fixing on a proper 
port, and the degree of freedom it is to enjoy in its opera- 



tions, will require negotiation, and be governed by events. 
There is danger, indeed, that even the unavoidable delay of 
sending a negotiator here, may render the mission too late 
for the preservation of peace. It is impossible to answer 
for the forbearance of our Western citizens. We endeavor 
to quiet them with the expectation of an attainment of their 
rights by peaceable means. But should they, in a moment 
of impatience, hazard others, there is no saying how far we 
may be led ; for neither themselves nor their rights will ever 
be abandoned by us. 

You will be pleased to observe; that we press these mat 
ters warmly and firmly, under this idea, that the war between 
Spain and Great Britain will be begun before you receive 
this ; and such a moment must not be lost. But should an 
accommodation take place, we retain, indeed, the same ob 
ject and the same resolutions unalterably; but your discre 
tion will suggest, that in that event, they must be pressed 
more softly, and that patience and persuasion must temper 
your conferences, till either these may prevail, or some other 
circumstance turn up, which may enable us to use other 
means for the attainment of an object which we are deter 
mined, in the end, to obtain at every risk. 

I have the honor to be, with great esteem, dear sir, your 
most obedient and most humble servant. 

On the Constitutionality of a National Bank 

FEBRUARY 15, 1791. 

The bill for establishing a National Bank undertakes 
among other things : 

1. To form the subscribers into a corporation. 

2. To enable them in their corporate capacities to receive 
grants of land; and so far is against the laws of Mortmain. 



3. To make alien subscribers capable of holding lands ; 
and so far is against the laws of alienage. 

4. To transmit these lands, on the death of a proprietor, 
to a certain line of successors; and so far changes the course 
of Descents. 

5. To put the lands out of the reach of forfeiture or es 
cheat; and so far is against the laws of Forfeiture and Es 

6. To transmit personal chattels to successors in a certain 
line; and so far is against the laws of Distribution. 

7. To give them the sole and exclusive right of banking 
under the national authority; and so far is against the laws 
of Monopoly. 

8. To communicate to them a power to make laws para 
mount to the laws of the States ; for so they must be con 
strued, to protect the institution from the control of the 
State legislatures ; and so, probably, they will be construed. 

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on 
this ground : That " all powers not delegated to the United 
States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, 
are reserved to the States or to the people." (Xllth 
amendment.) To take a single step beyond the boundaries 
thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to 
take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer 
susceptible of any definition. 

The incorporation of a bank, and the powers assumed by 
this bill, have not, in my opinion, been delegated to the 
United States, by the Constitution. 

I. They are not among the powers specially enumerated: 
for these 1st. A power to lay taxes for the purpose 
of paying the debts of the United States ; but no debt is 
paid by this bill, nor any tax laid. . . . 

2d. " To borrow money." But this bill neither borrows 
money nor insures the borrowing it. ... 



3d. To " regulate commerce with foreign nations, and 
among the States, and with the Indian tribes." To erect 
a bank and to regulate commerce, are very different acts. 
. . . Still less are these powers covered by any other of 
the special enumerations. 

II. Xor are they within either of the general phrases, 
which are the two following: 

1. To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the 
United States, that is to say, " to lay taxes for the purpose 
of providing for the general welfare." For the laying of 
taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for 
which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay 
taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to 
pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In 
like manner, they are not to do anything they please to pro 
vide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that 
purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing 
the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and inde 
pendent power to do any act they please, which might be 
for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding 
and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless. 

It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, 
that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever 
would be for the good of the United States; and, as they 
would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be 
also a power to do whatever evil they please. 

It is an established rule of construction where a phrase 
will bear either of two meanings, to give it that which will 
allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, 
and not that which would render all the others useless. 
Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given 
them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the 
enumerated powers, and those without which, as means, 
these powers could not be carried into effect. It is known 



that the very power now proposed as a means was rejected 
as an end by the Convention which formed the Constitution. 
A proposition was made to them to authorize Congress to 
open canals, and an amendatory one to empower them to 
incorporate. But the whole was rejected, and one of the 
reasons for rejection urged in debate was, that then they 
would have a power to erect a bank, which would render the 
great cities, where there were prejudices and jealousies on 
the subject, adverse to the reception of the Constitution. 

2. The second general phrase is, " to make all laws neces 
sary and proper for carrying into execution the enumerated 
powers." But they can all be carried into execution without 
a bank. A bank therefore is not necessary, and consequent 
ly not authorized by this phrase. 

It has been urged that a bank will give great facility or 
convenience in the collection of taxes. Suppose this were 
true: yet the Constitution allows only the means which are 
" necessary," not those which are merely " convenient " for 
effecting the enumerated powers. If such a latitude of con 
struction be allowed to this phrase as to give any non-enu 
merated power, it will go to every one, for there is not one 
which ingenuity may not torture into a convenience in some 
instance or other, to some one of so long a list of enumer 
ated powers. It would swallow up all the delegated powers, 
and reduce the whole to one power, as before observed. 
Therefore it was that the Constitution restrained them to 
the necessary means, that is to say, to those means without 
which the grant of power would be nugatory. . . . 

Can it be thought that the Constitution intended that for 
a shade or two of convenience, more or less, Congress should 
be authorized to break down the most ancient and funda 
mental laws of the several States ; such as those against 
Mortmain, the laws of Alienage, the rules of descent, the 
acts of distribution, the laws of escheat and forfeiture, the 



laws of monopoly? Nothing but a necessity invincible by 
any other means, can justify such a prostitution of laws, 
which constitute the pillars of our whole system of juris 
prudence. Will Congress be too straitlaced to carry the 
Constitution into honest effect, unless they may pass over 
the foundation-laws of the State government for the slight 
est convenience of theirs? 

The negative of the President is the shield provided by 
the Constitution to protect against the invasions of the leg 
islature: 1. The right of the Executive. 2. Of the Ju 
diciary. 3. Of the States and State legislatures. The 
present is the case of a right remaining exclusively with the 
States, and consequently one of those intended by the Con 
stitution to be placed under its protection. 

It must be added, however, that unless the President s 
mind on a view of everything which is urged for and 
against this bill, is tolerably clear that it is unauthorized 
by the Constitution ; if the pro and the con hang so even as 
to balance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of 
the legislature would naturally decide the balance in favor 
of their opinion. It is chiefly for cases where they are 
clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the Con 
stitution has placed a check in the negative of the President. 

On Frankliniana 

PHILADELPHIA, February 19, 1791- 

Dear Sir: I feel both the wish and the duty to commu 
nicate, in compliance with your request, whatever, within 
my knowledge, might render justice to the memory of our 
great countryman, Dr. Franklin, in which Philosophy has 



to deplore one of its principal luminaries extinguished. But 
my opportunities of knowing the interesting facts of his 
life, have not been equal to my desire of making them 
known. I could, indeed, relate a number of those bon- 
mots, with which he used to charm every society, having 
heard many of them. But these are not your object. Par 
ticulars of greater dignity happened not to occur during his 
stay of nine months, after my arrival in France. 

A little before that, Argand had invented his celebrated 
lamp, in which the flame is spread into a hollov/ cylinder, 
and thus brought into contact with the air within as well as 
without. Dr. Franklin had been on the point of the 
same discovery. The idea had occurred to him; but he had 
tried a bulrush as a wick, which did not succeed. His oc 
cupations did not permit him to repeat and extend his trials 
to the introduction of a larger column of air than could pass 
through the stem of a bulrush. 

The animal magnetism, too, of the maniac Mesmer, had 
just received its death wound from his hand in conjunction 
with his brethren of the learned committee appointed to un 
veil that compound of fraud and folly. But after this, 
nothing very interesting was before the public, either in 
philosophy or politics, during his stay; and he was prin 
cipally occupied in winding up his affairs there. 

I can only therefore testify in general, that there ap 
peared to me more respect and veneration attached to the 
character of Dr. Franklin in France, than to that of any 
other person in the same country, foreign or native. I had 
opportunities of knowing particularly how far these senti 
ments were felt by the foreign ambassadors and ministers 
at the court of Versailles. The fable of his capture by the 
Algerines, propagated by the English newspapers, excited 
no uneasiness, as it was seen at once to be a dish cooked up 
to the palate of their readers. But nothing could exceed 



the anxiety of his diplomatic brethren, on a subsequent re 
port of his death, which, though premature, bore some 
marks of authenticity. 

I found the ministers of France equally impressed with 
the talents and integrity of Dr. Franklin. The Count de 
Vergennes particularly gave me repeated and unequivocal 
demonstrations of his entire confidence in him. 

When he left Passy, it seemed as if the village had lost 
its patriarch. On taking leave of the court, which he did by 
letter, the King ordered him to be handsomely compli 
mented, and furnished him with a litter and mules of his 
own, the only kind of conveyance the state of his health 
could bear. 

No greater proof of his estimation in France can be 
given than the late letters of condolence on his death, from 
the National Assembly of that country, and the community 
of Paris, to the President of the United States and to Con 
gress, and their public mourning on that event. It is, I be 
lieve, the first instance of that homage having been paid 
by a public body of one nation to a private citizen of 

His death was an affliction which was to happen to us at 
some time or other. We have reason to be thankful he was 
so long spared; that the most useful life should be the long 
est also; that it was protracted so far beyond the ordinary 
span allotted to man, as to avail us of his wisdom in the 
establishment of our own freedom, and to bless him with a 
view of its dawn in the east, where they seemed, till now, 
to have learned everything, but how to be free. 

The succession to Dr. Franklin, at the Court of France, 
was an excellent school of humility. On being presented ta 
any one as the minister of America, the commonplace ques 
tion used in such cases was, " c est vous, Monsieur, qui rem- 
place le Docteur Franklin? " " it is you, sir, who replace 



Dr. Franklin?" I generally answered, "no one can re 
place him, Sir; I am only his successor." 

These small offerings to the memory of our great and 
dear friend, whom time will be making greater while it is 
sponging us from its records, must be accepted by you, Sir, 
in that spirit of love and veneration for him, in which they 
are made; and not according to their insignificance in the 
eyes of a world, who did not want this mite to fill up the 
measure of his worth. 

I pray you to accept, in addition, assurances of the sin 
cere esteem and respect with which I have the honor to be, 
sir, most obedient, and most humble servant. 

On the Control of the Mississippi 

To William Carmichael 

PHILADELPHIA, March 12, 179*. 

We cannot omit this occasion of urging on the court of 
Madrid, the necessity of hastening a final acknowledgment 
of our right to navigate the Mississippi; a right which has 
been long suspended in exercise, with extreme inconvenience 
on our part, merely with a desire of reconciling Spain to 
what it is impossible for us to relinquish. An accident at 
this day, like that now complained of, would put further 
parley beyond our power; yet to such accidents we are 
every day exposed by the irregularities of their officers, and 
the impatience of our citizens. Should any spark kindle 
these dispositions of our borderers into a flame, we are in 
volved beyond recall by the eternal principles of justice to 
our citizens, which we will never abandon. In such an 
event, Spain cannot possibly gain, and what may she not 
lose ? 



A Letter of Explanation 

To John Adams 

PHILADELPHIA, July 17, 1791- 

Dear Sir: I have a dozen times taken up my pen to write 
to you, and as often laid it down again, suspended between 
opposing considerations. I determined, however, to write 
from a conviction that truth, between candid minds, can 
never do harm. The first of Paine s pamphlets on the 
rights of man, which came to hand here, belonged to Mr. 
Beckley. He lent it to Mr. Madison, who lent it to me; 
and while I was reading it, Mr. Beckley called on me for it, 
and, as I had not finished it, he desired me, as soon as I 
should have done so, to send it to Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, 
whose brother meant to reprint it. I finished reading it, 
and, as I had no acquaintance with Mr. Jonathan B. Smith, 
propriety required that I should explain to him why I, a 
stranger to him, sent him the pamphlet. I accordingly 
wrote a note of compliment, informing him that I did it at 
the desire of Mr. Beckley, and, to take off a little of the 
dryness of the note, I added that I was glad it was to be re 
printed here, and that something was to be publicly said 
against the political heresies which had sprung up among 
us, etc. I thought so little of this note, that I did not even 
keep a copy of it; nor ever heard a tittle more of it, till, the 
week following, I was thunderstruck with seeing it come 
out at the head of the pamphlet. I hoped, however, it would 
not attract notice. But I found, on my return from a jour 
ney of a month, that a writer came forward, under the sig 
nature of Publicola, attacking not only the author and prin 
ciples of the pamphlet, but myself as its sponsor, by name. 
Soon after came hosts of other writers, defending the pam- 



phlet, and attacking you, by name, as the writer of Pub- 
licola. Thus were our names thrown on the public stage as 
public antagonists. That you and I differ in our ideas of 
the best form of government, is well known to us both; but 
we have differed as friends should do, respecting the purity 
of each other s motives, and confining our difference of 
opinion to private conversation. And I can declare with 
truth, in the presence of the Almighty, that nothing was 
further from my intention or expectation than to have 
either my own or your name brought before the public on 
this occasion. The friendship and confidence which have so 
long existed between us, required this explanation from me, 
and I know you too well to fear any misconstruction of the 
motives of it. Some people here, who would wish me to be, 
or to be thought, guilty of improprieties, have suggested 
that I was Agricola, that I was Brutus, etc., etc. I never 
did in my life, either by myself or by any other, have a 
sentence of mine inserted in a newspaper without putting 
my name to it; and I believe I never shall. 

On a National Indian Policy 

To General Knox 

PHILADELPHIA, August 10, 1791- 

Dear Sir: I have now the honor to return you the pe 
tition of Mr. Moultrie on behalf of the South Carolina 
Yazoo Company. Without noticing that some of the high 
est functions of sovereignty are assumed in the very pipers 
which he annexes as his justification, I am of opinion that 
Government should firmly maintain this ground; that the 
Indians have a right to the occupation of their lands, inde 
pendent of the States within whose chartered lines they 



happen to be; that until they cede them by treaty or other 
transaction equivalent to a treaty, no act of a State 
can give a right to such lands; that neither under the 
present Constitution, nor the ancient confederation, had 
any State or person a right to treat with the Indians, with 
out the consent of the General Government; that that con 
sent has never been given to any treaty for the cession of 
the lands in question ; that the Government is determined to 
exert all its energy for the patronage and protection of the 
rights of the Indians, and the preservation of peace be 
tween the United States and them ; and that if any settle 
ments are made on lands not ceded by them, without the pre 
vious consent of the United States, the Government will 
think itself bound, not only to declare to the Indians that 
such settlements are without the authority or protection of 
the United States, but to remove them also by the public 

On Obligations and Discomforts of Public Office 

To the President of the United States 

PHILADELPHIA, May 23, 1792. 

Dear Sir: I have determined to make the subject of a 
letter what for some time past has been a subject of in 
quietude to my mind, without having found a good occasion 
of disbursing itself to you in conversation, during the 
busy scenes which occupied you here. Perhaps, too, you 
may be able in your present situation, or on the road, to 
give it more time and reflection than you could do here at 
any moment. 

When you first mentioned to me your purpose of retiring 
from the Government, though I felt all the magnitude of the 



event, I was in a considerable degree silent. I knew that, to 
such a mind as yours, persuasion was idle and impertinent; 
that before forming your decision you had weighed all the 
reasons for and against the measure, had made up your 
mind on full view of them, and that there could be little 
hope of changing the result. Pursuing my reflections, too, 
I knew we were some day to try to walk alone, and if the 
essay should be made while you should be alive and look 
ing on, AVC should derive confidence from that circum 
stance, and resource, if it failed. The public mind, too, was 
calm and confident, and therefore in a favorable state for 
making the experiment. Had no change of circumstances 
intervened, I should not, with any hopes of success, have 
now ventured to propose to you a change of purpose. But 
the public mind is no longer confident and serene ; and that 
from causes in which you are no ways personally mixed. 
Though these causes have been hackneyed in the public pa 
pers in detail, it may not be amiss, in order to calculate the 
effect they are capable of producing, to take a view of them 
in the mass, giving to each the form, real or imaginary, 
under which they have been presented. 

It has been urged, then, that a public debt, greater than 
we can possibly pay, before other causes of adding new debt 
to it will occur, has been artificially created by adding to 
gether the whole amount of the debtor and creditor sides of 
accounts, instead of only taking their balances, which could 
have been paid off in a short time ; that this accumulation of 
debt has taken forever out of our power those easy sources 
of revenue which, applied to the ordinary necessities and 
exigencies of government, would have answered them ha 
bitually, and covered us from habitual murmurings against 
taxes and tax-gatherers, reserving extraordinary calls for 
those extraordinary occasions which would animate the 
people to meet them; that though the calls for money have 



been no greater than we must expect generally, for the 
same or equivalent exigencies, yet we are already obliged 
to strain the impost till it produces clamor, and will produce 
evasion and war on our own citizens to collect it, and even 
to resort to an excise law of odious character with the peo 
ple, partial in its operation, unproductive unless enforced 
by arbitrary and vexatious means, and committing the au 
thority of the Government in parts where resistance is most 
probable and coercion least practicable. They cite propo 
sitions in Congress, and suspect other projects on foot still 
to increase the mass of debt. They say, that by borrowing 
at two-thirds of the interest, we might have paid off the 
principal in two-thirds of the time; but that from this we 
are precluded by its being made irredeemable but in small 
portions and long terms ; that this irredeemable quality 
was given it for the avowed purpose of inviting its trans 
fer to foreign countries. They predict that this transfer 
of the principal, when completed, will occasion an exporta 
tion of three millions of dollars annually for the interest, 
a drain of coin, of which, as there has been no examples, 
no calculation can be made of its consequences : that the 
banishment of our coin will be complicated by the creation 
of ten millions of paper-money, in the form of bank-bills 
now issuing into circulation. They think the ten or 
twelve per cent, annual profit paid to the lenders of this 
paper medium taken out of the pockets of the people, 
who would have had without interest the coin it is ban 
ishing: that all the capital employed in paper speculation 
is barren and useless, producing, like that on a gaming 
table, no accession to itself, and is withdrawn from com 
merce and agriculture, where it would have produced addi 
tion to the common mass: that it nourishes in our citizens 
habits of vice and idleness, instead of industry and moral 
ity: that it has furnished effectual means of corrupting 



such a portion of the legislature as turns the balance be 
tween the honest voters, whichever way it is directed: that 
this corrupt squadron, deciding the voice of the legislature, 
have manifested their dispositions to get rid of the limita 
tions imposed by the Constitution on the general legislature, 
limitations, on the faith of which, the States acceded to 
that instrument: that the ultimate object of all this is to 
prepare the way for a change from the present republican 
form of government to that of a monarchy, of which the 
English Constitution is to be the model: that this was con 
templated by the convention is no secret, because its parti 
sans have made more of it. To effect it then was imprac 
ticable, but they are still eager after their object, and are 
predisposing everything for its ultimate attainment. So 
many of them have got into the Legislature, that, aided by 
the corrupt squadron of paper dealers, who are at their de 
votion, they make a majority in both houses. The repub 
lican party, who wish to preserve the government in its 
present form, are fewer in number; they are fewer even 
when joined by the two, three, or half dozen antifederal- 
ists, who, though they dare not avow it, are still opposed to 
any General Government; but, being less so to a republican 
than a monarchical one, they naturally join those whom they 
think pursuing the lesser evil. 

Of all the mischiefs objected to the system of measures 
before mentioned, none is so afflicting and fatal to every 
honest hope, as the corruption of the Legislature. As it 
was the earliest of these measures, it became the instrument 
for producing the risk, and will be the instrument for pro 
ducing in future a king, lords and commons, or whatever 
else those who direct it may choose. Withdrawn such a dis 
tance from the eye of their constituents, and these so dis 
persed as to be inaccessible to public information, and par 
ticularly to that of the conduct of their own representatives, 



they will form the most corrupt government on earth, if the 
means of their corruption be not prevented. The only hope 
of safety hangs now on the numerous representation which 
is to come forward the ensuing year. Some of the new 
members will be, probably, either in principle or interest, 
with the present majority; but it is expected that the great 
mass will form an accession to the republican party. They 
will not be able to undo all which the two preceding Leg 
islatures, and especially the first, have done. Public faith 
and right will oppose this. But some parts of the system 
may be rightfully reformed, a liberation from the rest un 
remittingly pursued as fast as right will permit, and the 
door shut in future against similar commitments of the na 
tion. Should the next Legislature take this course, it will 
draw upon them the whole monarchical and paper interest; 
but the latter, I think, will not go all lengths with the form 
er, because creditors will never, of their own accord, fly off 
entirely from their debtors ; therefore, this is the alternative 
least likely to produce convulsion. But should the majority 
of the new members be still in the same principles with the 
present, and show that we have nothing to expect but a con 
tinuance of the same practices, it is not easy to conjecture 
what would be the result, nor what means would be resorted 
to for correction of the evil. True wisdom would direct that 
they should be temperate and peaceable; but the division of 
sentiment and interest happens unfortunately to be so geo 
graphical, that no mortal can say that what is most wise and 
temperate would prevail against what is most easy and ob 
vious. I can scarcely contemplate a more incalculable evil 
than the breaking of the Union into two or more parts. Yet 
when we consider the mass which opposed the original 
coalescence; when we consider that it lay chiefly in the 
Southern quarter; that the Legislature have availed them 
selves of no occasion of allaying it, but on the contrary, 



whenever Northern and Southern prejudices have come into 
conflict, the latter have been sacrificed and the former 
soothed; that the owners of the debt are in the Southern, 
and the holders of it in the Northern division ; that the anti- 
federal champions are now strengthened in argument by 
the fulfilment of their predictions ; that this has been 
brought about by the monarchical federalists themselves, 
who, having been for the new government merely as a 
stepping-stone to monarchy, have themselves adopted the 
very constructions of the Constitution, of which, when advo 
cating its acceptance before the tribunal of the people, they 
declared it unsusceptible; that the republican federalists 
who espoused the same government for its intrinsic merits, 
are disarmed of their weapons ; that which they denied as 
prophecy, having now become true history, who can be sure 
that these things may not proselyte the small number which 
was wanting to place the majority on the other side? And 
this is the event at which I tremble, and to prevent which I 
consider your continuing at the head of affairs as of the 
last importance. The confidence of the whole Union is cen 
tred in you. Your being at the helm will be more than an 
answer to every argument which can be used to alarm and 
lead the people in any quarter, into violence and secession. 
North and South will hang together if they have you to 
hang on; and if the first correction of a numerous represen 
tation should fail in its effect, your presence will give time 
for trying others, not inconsistent with the union and peace 
of the States. 

I am perfectly aware of the oppression under which 
your present office lays your mind, and of the ardor with 
which you pant for domestic life. But there is sometimes 
an eminence of character on which society have such pecul 
iar claims as to control the predilections of the individual 
for a particular walk of happiness, and restrain him to that 



alone arising from the present and future benedictions of 
mankind. This seems to be your condition, and the law im 
posed on you by Providence in forming your character, and 
fashioning the events on which it was to operate; and it is 
to motives like these, and not to personal anxieties of mine 
or others who have no right to call on you for sacrifices, 
that I appeal, and urge a revisal of it, on the ground of 
change in the aspect of things. Should an honest majority 
result from the new and enlarged representation ; should 
those acquiesce whose principles or interest they may con 
trol, your wishes for retirement would be gratified with less 
danger, as soon as that shall be manifest, without awaiting 
the completion of the second period of four years. One or 
two sessions will determine the crisis ; and I cannot but hope 
that you can resolve to add more to the many years you 
have already sacrificed to the good of mankind. 

The fear of suspicion that any selfish motive of contin 
uance in office may enter into this solicitation on my part 
obliges me to declare that no such motive exists. It is a 
thing of mere indifference to the public whether I retain or 
relinquish my purpose of closing my tour with the first pe 
riodical renovation of the Government. I know my own 
measure too well to suppose that my services contribute any 
thing to the public confidence, or the public utility. Multi 
tudes can fill the office in which you have been pleased to 
place me, as much to their advantage and satisfaction. I 
have, therefore, no motive to consult but my own inclina 
tion, which is bent irresistibly on the tranquil enjoyment of 
my family, my farm, and my books. I should repose among 
them, it is true, in far greater security, if I were to know 
that you remained at the watch ; and I hope it will be so. To 
the inducements urged from a view of our domestic affairs, I 
will add a bare mention, of what indeed need only to be 
mentioned, that weighty motives for your continuance are to 



be found in our foreign affairs. I think it probable that 
both the Spanish and English negotiations, if not completed 
before your purpose is known, will be suspended from the 
moment it is known, and that the latter nation will then use 
double diligence in fomenting the Indian War. 

On the French Revolution 

To William Short 

PHILADELPHIA, January 3, 1793. 

The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue 
of the contest [the French Revolution], and was ever such 
a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affec 
tions have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to 
this cause, but rather than it should have failed I would 
have seen half the earth desolated; were there but an Adam 
and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be 
better than as it now is. 

On Obligations to Public Service and the Simple 


To James Madison 

PHILADELPHIA, June 9> 1793. 

I acknowledge . . . that a tour of duty, in whatever 
line he can be most useful to his country, is due from every 
individual. It is not easy perhaps to say of what length 
exactly this tour should be, but we may safely say of what 
length it should not be. Not of our whole life, for instance, 
for that would be to be born a slave not even of a very 



large portion of it. I have now been in the public service 
four and twenty years ; one-half of which has been spent in 
total occupation with their affairs, and absence from my 
own. I have served my tour then. No positive engage 
ment, by word or deed, binds me to their further service. 
No commitment of their interests in any enterprise by me 
requires that I should see them through it. I am pledged 
by no act which gives any tribunal a call upon me be 
fore I withdraw. Even my enemies do not pretend this. 
I stand clear then of public right on all points my 
friends I have not committed. No circumstances have at 
tended my passage from office to office, which could lead 
them, and others through them, into deception as to the 
time I might remain, and particularly the} and all 
have known with what reluctance I engaged and have con 
tinued in the present one, and of my uniform determina 
tion to return from it at an early date. If the public 
then has no claim on me, and my friends nothing to justify, 
the decision will rest on my own feelings alone. There has 
been a time when these were very different from what they 
are now; when perhaps the esteem of the world was of 
higher value in my eye than everything in it. But age, ex 
perience and reflection preserving to that only its due value, 
have set a higher on tranquillity. The motion of my blood 
no longer keeps time with the tumult of the world. It leads 
me to seek for happiness in the lap and love of my family, 
in the society of my neighbors and my books, in the whole 
some occupations of my farm and my affairs, in an interest 
or affection in every bud that opens, in every breath that 
blows around me, in an entire freedom of rest, of motion, 
of thought, owing account to myself alone of my hours and 
actions. What must be the principle of that calculation 
which should balance against these the circumstances of my 
present existence worn down with labors from morning to 



night, and day to day; knowing them as fruitless to others 
as they are vexatious to myself, committed singly in desper 
ate and eternal contest against a host who are systemati 
cally undermining the public liberty and prosperity, even 
the rare hours of relaxation sacrificed to the society of per 
sons in the same intentions, of whose hatred I am conscious 
even in those moments of conviviality when the heart 
wishes most to open itself to the effusions of friendship 
and confidence, cut off from my family and friends, my 
affairs abandoned to chaos and derangement, in short, giv 
ing everything I love in exchange for everything I hate, 
and all this without a single gratification in possession or 
prospect, in present enjoyment or future wish. Indeed, my 
dear friend, duty being out of the question, inclination cuts 
off all argument, and so never let there be more between 
you and me, on this subject. 

From the Report of Secretary of State on Trade 
and the Tariff 

DECEMBER 16, 1793. 

The following principles, being founded in reciprocity, 
appear perfectly just, and to offer no cause of complaint 
to any nation : 

1. Where a nation imposes high duties on our produc 
tions, or prohibits them altogether, it may be proper for us 
to do the same by theirs ; first burdening or excluding those 
productions which they bring here, in competition with our 
own of the same kind; selecting next, such manufactures as 
we take from them in greatest quantity, and which, at the 
same time, we could the soonest furnish to ourselves, or ob 
tain from other countries; imposing on them duties lighter 



at first, but heavier and heavier afterward as other channels 
of supply open. Such duties having the effect of indirect 
encouragement to domestic manufactures of the same kind, 
may induce the manufacturer to come himself into these 
States, where cheaper subsistence, equal laws, and a vent 
of his wares, free of duty, may insure him the highest 
profits from his skill and industry. And here, it would be 
in the power of the State governments to cooperate essen 
tially, by opening the resources of encouragement which are 
under their control, extending them liberally to artists in 
those particular branches of manufacture for which their 
soil, climate, population and other circumstances have ma 
tured them, and fostering the precious efforts and progress 
of household manufacture, by some patronage suited to the 
nature of its objects, guided by the local informations they 
possess, and guarded against abuse by their presence and 
. attentions. The oppressions on our agriculture, in foreign 
ports, would thus be made the occasion of relieving it from 
a dependence on the councils and conduct of others, and of 
promoting arts, manufactures, and population at home. 

2. Where a nation refuses permission to our merchants 
and factors to reside within certain parts of their dominions, 
we may, if it should be thought expedient, refuse residence 
to theirs in any and every part of ours, or modify their 

3. Where a nation refuses to receive in our vessels any 
productions but our own, we may refuse to receive, in theirs, 
any but their own productions. The first and second clauses 
of the bill reported by the committee, are well formed to 
effect this object. 

4. Where a nation refuses to consider any vessel as ours 
which has not been built within our territories, we should 
refuse to consider as theirs, any vessel not built within their 



5. Where a nation refuses to our vessels the carriage 
even of our own productions, to certain countries under 
their domination, we might refuse to theirs of every descrip 
tion, the carriage of the same productions to the same coun 
tries. But as justice and good neighborhood would dictate 
that those who have no part in imposing the restriction on 
us, should not be the victims of measures adopted to defeat 
its effect, it may be proper to confine the restrictions to ves 
sels owned or navigated by any subjects of the same domi 
nant power, other than the inhabitants of the country to 
which the said productions are to be carried. And to pre 
vent all inconvenience to the said inhabitants, and to our 
own, by too sudden a check on the means of transportation, 
we may continue to admit the vessels marked for future ex 
clusion, on an advanced tonnage, and for such length of 
time only, as may be supposed necessary to provide against 
that inconvenience. 

The establishment of some of these principles by Great 
Britain alone, has already lost us in our commerce with that 
country and its possessions, between eight and nine hun 
dred vessels of near 40,000 tons burden, according to state 
ments from official materials, in which they have confidence. 
This involves a proportional loss of seamen, shipwrights, 
and ship-building, and is too serious a loss to admit forbear 
ance of some effectual remedy. 

It is true we must expect some inconvenience in practice 
from the establishment of discriminating duties. But in 
this, as in so many other cases, we are left to choose be 
tween two evils. These inconveniences are nothing when 
weighed against the loss of wealth and loss of force, which 
will follow our perseverance in the plan of indiscrimination. 
When once it shall be perceived that we are either in the 
system or in the habit of giving equal advantages to those 
who extinguish our commerce and navigation by duties and 



prohibitions, as to those who treat both with liberality and 
justice, liberality and justice will be converted by all into 
duties and prohibitions. It is not to the moderation and jus 
tice of others we are to trust for fair and equal access to 
market with our productions, or for our due share in the 
transportation of them; but to our own means of indepen 
dence, and the firm will to use them. Nor do the inconven 
iences of discrimination merit consideration. Not one of 
the nations before mentioned, perhaps not a commercial na 
tion on earth, is without them. In our case one distinction 
alone will suffice: that is to say, between nations who favor 
our productions and navigation, and those who do not favor 
them. One set of moderate duties, say the present duties, 
for the first, and a fixed advance on these as to some arti 
cles, and prohibitions as to others, for the last. 

Still, it must be repeated that friendly arrangements are 
preferable with all who will come into them ; and that we 
should carry into such arrangements all the liberality and 
spirit of accommodation which the nature of the case will 

On Rural Life 

To George Washington 

MONTICELLO, April 25, 1794. 

Dear Sir: I am to thank you for the book you were so 
good as to transmit me, as well as the letter covering it, 
and your felicitations on my present quiet. The difference 
of my present and past situation is such as to leave me 
nothing to regret, but that my retirement has been post 
poned four years too long. The principles on which I cal 
culated the value of life, are entirely in favor of my present 



course. I return to farming with an ardor which I scarcely 
knew in my youth, and which has got the better entirely of 
my love of study. Instead of writing ten or twelve letters 
a day, which I have been in the habit of doing as a tiling in 
course, I put off answering my letters now, farmer-like, till 
a rainy day, and then find them sometimes postponed by 
other necessary occupations. 

On Political Theory 

To Monsieur D lvernois 

MONTICELLO, February 6, 1795. 

I suspect that the doctrine, that small States alone are 
fitted to be republics, will be exploded by experience, with 
some other brilliant fallacies accredited by Montesquieu and 
other political writers. Perhaps it will be found, that to 
obtain a just republic (and it is to secure our just rights 
that we resort to government at all) it must be so extensive 
as that local egoisms may never reach its greater part ; that 
on every particular question, a majority may be found in its 
councils free from particular interests, and giving, there 
fore, an uniform prevalence to the principles of justice. 
The smaller the societies the more violent and more con 
vulsive their schisms. We have chanced to live in an age 
which will probably be distinguished in history, for its ex 
periments in government on a larger scale than has yet 
taken place. But we shall not live to see the result. The 
grosser absurdities, such as hereditary magistracies, we 
shall see exploded in our day, long experience having al 
ready pronounced condemnation against them. But what is 
to be the substitute? Tliis our children or grandchildren 
will answer. We may be satisfied with the certain knowl- 



edge that none can ever be tried, so stupid, so unrighteous, 
so oppressive, so destructive of every end for which hon 
est men enter into government, as that which their fore 
fathers had established, and their fathers alone venture to 
tumble headlong from the stations they have so long abused. 
It is unfortunate, that the efforts of mankind to recover the 
freedom of which they have been so long deprived, will 
be accompanied with violence, with errors, and even with 
crimes. But while we weep over the means, we must pray 
for the end. 

On Education, Rogues, and Honest Men 

To Mann Page 

MONTICELLO, August 30, 1795. 

If anything could ever induce me to sleep another night 
out of my own house, it would have been your friendly in 
vitation and my solicitude for the subject of it, the educa 
tion of our youth. I do most anxiously wish to see the 
highest degrees of education given to the higher degrees 
of genius, and to all degrees of it, so much as may enable 
them to read and understand what is going on in the world, 
and to keep their part of it going on right: for nothing 
can keep it right but their own vigilant and distrustful 
superintendence. I do not believe with the Rochefou- 
caults and Montaignes, that fourteen out of fifteen men are 
rogues: I believe a great abatement from that proportion 
may be made in favor of general honesty. But I have al 
ways found that rogues would be uppermost, and I do not 
know that the proportion is too strong for the higher or 
ders, and for those who, rising above the swinish multitude, 
always contrive to nestle themselves into the places of power 



and profit. These rogues set out with stealing the people s 
good opinion, and then steal from them the right of with 
drawing it, by contriving laws and associations against the 
power of the people themselves. Our part of the country 
is in considerable fermentation, on what they suspect to be 
a recent roguery of this kind. They say that while all 
hands were below deck mending sails, splicing ropes, and 
every one at his own business, and the captain in his cabin 
attending to his log-book and chart, a rogue of a pilot has 
run them into an enemy s port. But metaphor apart, there 
is much dissatisfaction with Mr. Jay and his treaty. For 
my part, I consider myself now but as a passenger, leaving 
the world and its government to those who are likely to live 
longer in it. That you may be among the longest of these 
is my sincere prayer. 

On the Jay Treaty 

To Col. James Monroe 

MONTICELLO, March 21, 1796. 

All America is a-tiptoe to see what the House of Repre 
sentatives will decide on it [the Jay Treaty]. We conceive 
the constitutional doctrine to be, that though the President 
and Senate have the general power of making treaties, yet 
wherever they include in a treaty matters confided by the 
Constitution to the three branches of Legislature, an act of 
legislation will be requisite to confirm these articles, and 
that the House of Representatives, as one branch of the 
Legislature, are perfectly free to pass the act or to refuse 
it, governing themselves by their own judgment whether it 
is for the good of their constituents to let the treaty go into 
effect or not. On the precedent now to be set will depend 



the future construction of our Constitution, and whether the 
powers of legislation shall be transferred from the Presi 
dent, Senate, and House of Representatives, to the Presi 
dent and Senate, and Piamingo or any other Indian, Alge- 
rine, or other chief. It is fortunate that the first decision is 
to be in a case so palpably atrocious, as to have been prede 
termined by all America. The appointment of Ellsworth 
Chief Justice, and Chase one of the judges, is doubtless 
communicated to you. 

On Party Lines 

To Phillip Mazzei 

MONTICELLO, April 24, 1796. 

The aspect of our politics has wonderfully changed since 
you left us. In place of that noble love of liberty and re 
publican government which carried us triumphantly through 
the war, an Anglican monarchical aristocratical party has 
sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the sub 
stance, as they have already done the forms, of the British 
government. The main body of our citizens, however, re 
main true to their republican principles; the whole landed 
interest is republican, and so is a great mass of talents. 
Against us are the Executive, the Judiciary, two out of 
three branches of the Legislature, all the officers of the gov 
ernment, all who want to be officers, all timid men who pre 
fer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty, 
British merchants and Americans trading on British capital, 
speculators and holders in the banks and public funds, a 
contrivance invented for the purposes of corruption, and for 
assimilating us in all things to the rotten as well as the 
sound parts of the British model. It would give you a fever 



were I to name to you the apostates who have gone over to 
these heresies, men who were Samsons in the field and Solo 
mons in the council, but who have had their heads shorn by 
the harlot England. In short, we are likely to preserve the 
liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and 
perils. But we shall preserve it; and our mass of weight 
and wealth on the good side is so great, as to leave no dan 
ger that force will ever be attempted against us. We have 
only to awake and snap the Lilliputian cords with which 
they have been entangling us during the first sleep which 
succeeded our labors. 

On Adams for President 

To James Madison 

MONTICELLO, December 17, 1796. 

Your favor of the 5th came to hand last night. The first 
wish of my heart was, that you should have been proposed 
for the administration of the government. On your declin 
ing it, I wish anybody rather than myself; and there is 
nothing I so anxiously hope, as that my name may come out 
either second or third. These would be indifferent to me; 
as the last would leave me at home the whole year, and the 
other two-thirds of it. I have no expectation that the East 
ern States will suffer themselves to be so much outwitted, as 
to be made the tools for bringing in P. instead of A. I pre 
sume they will throw away their second vote. In this case, 
it begins to appear possible, that there may be an equal di 
vision where I had supposed the republican vote would have 
been considerably minor. It seems also possible, that the 
Representatives may be divided. This is a difficulty from 
which the Constitution has provided no issue. It is both my 



duty and inclination, therefore, to relieve the embarrass 
ment, should it happen; and in that case, I pray you and 
authorize you fully, to solicit on my behalf that Mr. Adams 
may be preferred. He has always been my senior, from 
the commencement of our public life, and the expression of 
the public will being equal, this circumstance ought to give 
him the preference. And when so many motives will be 
operating to induce some of the members to change their 
vote, the addition of my wish may have some effect to pre 
ponderate the scale. 

On his Relations to Adams 

To James Madison 

MONTICELLO, January 30, 1797. 

Yours of the 18th came to hand yesterday. I am very 
thankful for the discretion you have exercised over the let 
ter. That has happened to be the case, which I knew to be 
possible, that the honest expression of my feelings toward 
Mr. Adams might be rendered malapropos from circum 
stances existing, and known at the seat of government, but 
not known by me in my retired situation. Mr. Adams and 
myself were cordial friends from the beginning of the Rev 
olution. Since our return from Europe, some little incidents 
have happened, which were capable of affecting a jealous 
mind like his. His deviation from that line of politics on 
which we had been united, has not made me less sensible of 
the rectitude of his heart; and I wished him to know this, 
and also another truth, that I am sincerely pleased at hav 
ing escaped the late draft for the helm, and have not a 
wish which he stands in the way of. That he should be con 
vinced of these truths, is important to our mutual satisfac- 



tion, and perhaps to the harmony and good of the public 
service. But there was a difficulty in conveying them to 
him, and a possibility that the attempt might do mischief 
there or somewhere else ; and I would not have hazarded the 
attempt, if you had not been in place to decide upon its ex 
pediency. It has now become unnecessary to repeat it by a 

On Ins Relations with Adams and Attitude 
toward England 

To Elbridge Gerry 

PHILADELPHIA, May 13, 1797. 

I entirely commend your dispositions toward Mr. Adams, 
knowing his worth as intimately and esteeming it as much 
as any one, and acknowledging the preference of his claims, 
if any I could have had, to the high office conferred on him. 
But in truth, I had neither claims nor wishes on the sub 
ject, though I know it will be difficult to obtain belief of 
this. When I retired from this place and the office of Sec 
retary of State, it was in the firmest contemplation of never 
more returning here. There had indeed been suggestions 
in the public papers, that I was looking toward a succession 
to the President s chair, but feeling a consciousness of 
their falsehood, and observing that the suggestions came 
from hostile quarters, I considered them as intended merely 
to excite public odium against me. I never in my life ex 
changed a word with any person on the subject, till I found 
my name brought forward generally, in competition with 
that of Mr. Adams. Those with whom I then communi 
cated, could say, if it were necessary, whether I met the call 


with desire, or even with a ready acquiescence, and whether 
from the moment of my first acquiescence, I did not devoutly 
pray that the very thing might happen which has happened. 
The second office of the Government is honorable and easy, 
the f rst is but a splendid misery. 

You express apprehensions that stratagems will be used, 
to produce a misunderstanding between the President and 
myself. Though not a word having this tendency hqs ever 
been hazarded to me by any one, yet I consider as a cer 
tainty that nothing will be left untried to alienate him from 
me. These machinations will proceed from the Hainil- 
tonians by whom he is surrounded, and who are only a little 
less hostile to him than to me. It cannot but damp the 
pleasure of cordiality, when we suspect that it is suspected. 
I cannot help thinking, that it is impossible for Mr. Adams 
to believe that the state of my mind is what it really is ; that 
he may think I view him as an obstacle in my way. I have 
no supernatural power to impress truth on the mind of an 
other, nor he any to discover that the estimate which he may 
form, on a just view of the human mind as generally consti 
tuted, may not be just in its application to a special consti 
tution. This may be a source of private uneasiness to us; I 
honestly confess that it is so to me at this time. But neither 
of us is capable of letting it have effect on our public dv.ties. 
Those who may endeavor to separate us, are probably ex 
cited by the fear that I might have influence on the exec 
utive councils ; but when they shall know that I consider my 
office as constitutionally confined to legislative functions, 
and that I could not take any part whatever in executive 
consultations, even were it proposed, their fears may per 
haps subside, and their object be found not worth a machi 

I do sincerely wisli with you, that we could take cur stand 
on a ground perfectly neutral and independent toward all 



nations. It has been my constant object through my public 
life; and with respect to the English and French, particu 
larly, I have too often expressed to the former my wishes, 
and made to them propositions verbally and in writing, offi 
cially and privately, to official and private characters, for 
them to doubt of my views, if they would be content with 
equality. Of this they are in possession of several written 
and formal proofs, in my own handwriting. But they have 
wished a monopoly of commerce and influence with us ; and 
they have in fact obtained it. When we take notice that 
theirs is the workshop to which we go for all we want; that 
with them centre either immediately or ultimately all the 
labors of our hands and lands; that to them belongs either 
openly or secretly the great mass of our navigation; that 
even the factorage of their affairs here, is kept to them 
selves by factitious citizenships; that these foreign and 
false citizens now constitute the great body of what are 
called our merchants, fill our seaports, are planted in every 
little town and district of the interior country, sway every 
thing in the former places by their own votes, and those of 
their dependents, in the latter, by their insinuations and the 
influence of their ledgers ; that they are advancing fast to a 
monopoly of our banks and public funds, and thereby plac 
ing our public finances under their control; that they have 
in their alliance the most influential characters in and out of 
office; when they have shown that by all these bearings on 
the different branches of the government, they can force it 
to proceed in whatever direction they dictate, and bend the 
interests of this country entirely to the will of another; 
when all this, I say, is attended to, it is impossible for us to 
say we stand on independent ground, impossible for a free 
mind not to see and to groan under the bondage in which 
it is bound. If anything after this could excite surprise, it 
would be that they have been able so far to throw dust in 



the eyes of our own citizens, as to fix on those who wish 
merely to recover self-government the charge of subserving 
one foreign influence, because they resist submission to an 
other. But they possess our printing-presses, a powerful 
engine in their government of us. At this very moment, 
they would have drawn us into a war on the side of England, 
had it not been lor the failure of her bank. Such was their 
open and loud cry, and that of their gazettes till this event. 
After plunging us in all the broils of the European nations, 
there would remain but one act to close our tragedy, that is, 
to break up our Union ; and even this they have ventured se 
riously and solemnly to propose and maintain by arguments 
in a Connecticut paper. I have been happy, however, in 
believing, from the stifling of this effort, that that dose was 
found too strong, and excited as much repugnance there as 
it did horror in other parts of our country, and that what 
ever follies we may be led into as to foreign nations, we 
shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, 
and that alone which is to prevent this heavenly country 
from becoming an arena of gladiators. Much as I abhor 
war, and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind, and 
anxiously as I wish to keep out of the broils of Europe, I 
would yet go with my brethren into these, rather than sepa 
rate from them. But I hope we may still keep clear of 
them, notwithstanding our present thraldom, and that time 
may be given us to reflect on the awful crisis we have passed 
through, and to find some means of shielding ourselves in 
future from foreign influence, political, commercial, or in 
whatever other form it may be attempted. I can scarcely 
withhold myself from joining in the wish of Silas Deane, 
that there were an ocean of fire between us and the Old 

A perfect confidence that you are as much attached to 
peace and union as myself, that you equally prize inde- 



pendence of all nations, and the blessings of self-govern 
ment, has induced me freely to unbosom myself to you, and 
let you see the light in which I have viewed what has been 
passing among us from the beginning of the war. And I 
shall be happy, at all times, in an intercommunication of 
sentiments with you, believing that the dispositions of the 
different parts of our country have been considerably mis 
represented and misunderstood in each part, as to the other, 
and that nothing but good can result from an exchange of 
information and opinions between those whose circum 
stances and morals admit no doubt of the integrity of their 

On the Position of the United States 

To Edward Rutledge 

PHILADELPHIA, June 24, 1797. 

They [the peace party] believe the present is the last 
campaign of Europe, and wish to rub through this fragment 
of a year as they have through the four preceding ones, 
opposing patience to insult, and interest to honor. They 
will, therefore, immediately adjourn. This is, indeed, a 
most humiliating state of things, but it commenced in 1793. 
Causes have been adding to causes, and effects accumulating 
on effects, from that time to this. We had, in 1793, the most 
respectable character in the universe. What the neutral na 
tions think of us now, I know not; but we are low indeed 
with the belligerents. Their kicks and cuffs prove their 
contempt. If we weather the present storm, I hope we shall 
avail ourselves of the calm of peace, to place our foreign 
connections under a new and different arrangement. We 
must make the interest of every nation stand surety for 



their justice, and their own loss to follow injury to us, as 
effect follows its cause. As to everything except commerce, 
we ought to divorce ourselves from them all. But this sys 
tem would require time, temptr, wisdom, and occasional sac 
rifice of interest; and how far all of these will be ours, our 
children may see, but we shall not. The passions are too 
high at present, to be cooled in our day. You and I have 
formerly seen warm debates and high political passions. 
But gentlemen of different politics would then speak to each 
other, and separate the business of the Senate from that of 
society. It is not so now. Men who have been intimate all 
their lives, cross the streets to avoid meeting, and turn their 
heads another way, lest they should be obliged to touch their 
hats. This may do for young men with whom passion is en- 
joj r ment. But it is afflicting to peaceable minds. Tranquil 
lity is the old man s milk. I go to enjoy it in a few days, 
and to exchange the roar and tumult of bulls and bears, for 
the prattle of my grandchildren and senile rest. Be these 
yours, my dear friend, through long years, with every other 
blessing, and the attachment of friends as warm and sin 
cere, as yours affectionately. 

On Farming 


PHILADELPHIA, March 23, 1798. 

Dear Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your fa 
vors of August l6th and 18th, together with the box of seed 
accompanying the former, which has just come to li-md. 
The letter of the 4th of June, which you mention to have 
committed to Mr. King, has never been received. It has 
most likely been intercepted on the sea, now become a field. 



of lawless and indiscriminate rn.pine and violence. The first 
box which came through Mr. Donald, arrived safely the 
last rear, but being a little too late for that season, its con 
tents have been divided between Mr. Randolph and myself, 
and will be committed to the earth now immediately. The 
peas and the vetch are most acceptable indeed. Since you 
were here, I have tried that species of your field pea which 
is cultivated in New York, and begin to fear that that plant 
will scarcely bear our sun and soil. A late acquisition too 
of a species of our country pea, called the cow-pea, has 
pretty well supplied the place in my husbandry which I 
had destined for the European field pea. It is very pro 
ductive, excellent food for man and beast, awaits without 
loss our leisure for gathering, and shades the ground very 
closely through the hottest months of the year. This with 
the loosening of the soil, I take to be the chief means by 
which the pea improves the soil. We know that the sun in 
our cloudless climate is the most powerful destroyer of fer 
tility in naked ground, and therefore that the perpetual fal 
lows will not do here, which are so beneficial in a cloudy cli 
mate. Still I shall with care try all the several kinds of 
pea you have been so good as to send me, and having tried 
all hold fast that which is good. Mr. Randolph is pecul- 
iarly happy in having the barleys committed to him, as he 
had been desirous of going considerably into that culture. J 
was able at the same time to put into his hands Siberian bar 
ley, sent me from France. I look forward with considerable 
anxiety to the success of the winter vetch, for it gives us a 
good winter crop, and helps the succeeding summer one. It 
is something like doubling the produce of the field. I know 
it does well in Italy, and therefore have the more hope here. 
My experience leaves me no fear as to the success of clover. 
I have never seen finer than in some of my fields which 
have never been manured. My rotation is triennial, to wit: 



one year of wheat and two of clover in the stronger fields, 
or two of peas in the weaker, with a crop of Indian corn 
and potatoes between every other rotation, that is to say 
once in seven years. Under this easy course of culture, 
aided with some manure, I hope my fields will recover their 
pristine fertility, which had in some of them been complete 
ly exhausted by perpetual crops of Indian corn and wheat 
alternately. The atmosphere is certainly the great work 
shop of nature for elaborating the fertilizing principles and 
insinuating them into the soil. It has been relied on as the 
sole means of regenerating our soil by most of the land 
holders in the canton I inhabit, and where rest has been re 
sorted to before a total exhaustion, the soil has never failed 
to recover. If, indeed, it be so run down as to be incapable 
of throwing weeds or herbage of any kind, to shade the soil 
from the sun, it either goes off in gullies, and is entirely 
lost, or remains exhausted till a growth springs up of such 
trees as will rise in the poorest soils. Under the shade of 
these and the cover soon formed of their deciduous leaves, 
and a commencing herbage, such fields sometimes recover in 
a long course of years; but this is too long to be taken into 
a course of husbandry. Not so, however, is the term within 
which the atmosphere alone will reintegrate a soil rested in 
due season. A year of wheat will be balanced by one, two, 
or three years of rest and atmospheric influence, according 
to the quality of the soil. It has been said that no rotation 
of crops will keep the earth in the same degree of fertility 
without the aid of manure. But it is well known here that 
a space of rest greater or less in spontaneous herbage, will 
restore the exhaustion of a single crop. This then is a ro 
tation; and as it is not to be believed that spontaneous herb 
age is the only or best covering during rest, so may we ex 
pect that a substitute for it may be found which will yield 
profitable crops, Such perhaps are clover, peas, vetches, 



etc. A rotation then may be found, which, by giving time 
for the slow influence of the atmosphere, will keep the soil 
in a constant and equal state of fertility. But the advant 
age of manuring, is that it will do more in one than the 
atmosphere would require several years to do, and conse 
quently enables you so much the oftener to take exhausting 
crops from the soil, a circumstance of importance where 
there is more labor than land. I am much indebted. 

On Newspaper Libels 

To James Lewis, Jr. 


Party passions are indeed high. Nobody has more rea 
son to know it than myself. I receive daily bitter proofs of 
it from people who never saw me, nor know anything of me 
but through Porcupine and Fenno. At this moment all the 
passions are boiling over, and one who keeps himself cool 
and clear of the contagion, is so far below the point of 
ordinary conversation, that he finds himself insulated in 
every society. However, the fever will not last. War, 
land tax and stamp tax, are sedatives which must cool its 
ardor. They will bring on reflection, and that, with infor 
mation, is all which our countrymen need to bring them 
selves and their affairs to rights. They are essentially Re 
publicans. They retain unadulterated the principles of 
75, and those who are conscious of no change in them 
selves have nothing to fear in the long run. It is our duty 
still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take 
place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend our 
selves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it 
was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish 



it. In that, I have no doubt, we shall act as one man. But 
if we can ward off actual war till the crisis of England is 
over, I shall hope we may escape it altogether. 

On Sectional Politics Possibility of Division 

To John Taylor 

PHILADELPHIA, June 1, 1798. 

Mr. Xew showed me your letter on the subject of the pat 
ent, which gave me an opportunity of observing what you 
said as to the effect, with you, of public proceedings, and 
that it was not unwise now to estimate the separate mass of 
Virginia and North Carolina, with a view to their separate 
existence. It is true that we are completely under the sad 
dle of Massachusetts and Connecticut, and that they ride 
us very hard, cruelly insulting our feelings, as well as ex 
hausting our strength and subsistence. Their natural 
friends, the three other Eastern States join them from a 
sort of family pride, and they have the art to divide certain 
other parts of the Union, so as to make use of them to gov 
ern the whole. This is not new, it is the old practice of 
despots; to use a part of the people to keep the rest in 
order. And those who have once got an ascendancy, and 
possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their 
revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their 
advantage. But our present situation is not a natural one. 
The republicans, through every part of the Union, say, that 
it was the irresistible influence and popularity of General 
Washington played off by the cunning of Hamilton, which 
turned the Government over to anti-republican hands, or 
turned the republicans chosen by the people into antire- 
publicans. He delivered it over to his successor in this 



state, and very untoward events since, improved with great 
artifice, have produced on the public mind the impressions 
we see. But still I repeat it, this is not the natural state. 
Time alone would bring round an order of things more cor 
respondent to the sentiments of our constituents. But are 
there no events impending which will do it within a few 
months ? The crisis with England, the public and authentic 
avowal of sentiments hostile to the leading principles of our 
Constitution, the prospect of a war, in which we shall stand 
alone, land-tax, stamp-tax, increase of public debt, etc. Be 
this as it may, in every free and deliberating society, there 
miist, from the nature of man, be opposite parties, and vio 
lent dissensions and discords ; and one of these, for the 
most part, must prevail over the other for a longer or short 
er time. Perhaps this party division is necessary to induce 
each to watch and delate to the people the proceedings of 
the other. But if on a temporary superiority of the one 
party, the other is to resort to a scission of the Union, no 
federal government can ever exist. If to rid ourselves of 
the present rule of Massachusetts and Connecticut, we break 
the Union, will the evil stop there ? Suppose the New Eng 
land States alone cut off, will our nature be changed? Are 
we not men still to the south of that, and with all the pas 
sions of men? Immediately, we shall see a Pennsylvania 
and a Virginia party arise in the residuary confederacy, and 
the public mind will be distracted with the same party 
spirit. What a game too will the one party have in their 
hands, by eternally threatening the other that unless they do 
so and so, they will join their Northern neighbors. If we 
reduce our Union to Virginia and North Carolina, immedi 
ately the conflict will be established between the representa 
tives of these two States, and they will end by breaking 
into their simple units. Seeing, therefore, that an associa 
tion of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing 


which never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of 
nations down to a town meeting or a vestry; seeing that we 
must have somebody to quarrel with, I had rather keep our 
New England associates for that purpose, than to see our 
bickerings transferred to others. They are circumscribed 
within such narrow limits, and their population so full, that 
their numbers will ever be the minority, and they are 
marked, like the Jews, with such a perversity of character, 
as to constitute, from that circumstance, the natural division 
of our parties. A little patience, and we shall see the reign 
of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people 
recovering their true sight, restoring their government to its 
true principles. It is true, that in the meantime, we are 
suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a 
war, and long oppressions of enormous public debt. But 
who can say what would be the evils of a scission, and when 
and where they would end? Better keep together as we 
are, haul off from Europe as soon as we can, and from all 
attachments to any portions of it; and if they show their 
power just sufficiently to hoop us together, it will be the 
happiest situation in which we can exist. If the game runs 
sometimes against us at home, we must have patience till 
luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of win 
ning back the principles we have lost. For this is a game 
where principles are the stake. Better luck, therefore, to us 
all, and health, happiness and friendly salutations to your 
self. Adieu. 



On Public Debt 

To John Taylor 

MONTICELLO, November 26, 1798. 

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to 
our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that 
alone for the reduction of the administration of our govern 
ment to the genuine principles of its Constitution ; I mean 
an additional article, taking from the federal government 
the power of borrowing. I now deny their power of making 
paper money or anything else a legal tender. I know that 
to pay all proper expenses within the year, would, in case of 
war, be hard on us. But not so hard as ten wars instead of 
one. For wars would be reduced in that proportion; besides 
that the State governments would be free to lend their 
credit in borrowing quotas. For the present, I should be 
for resolving the alien and sedition laws to be against the 
Constitution and merely void, and for addressing the other 
States to obtain similar declarations ; and I would not do 
anything at this moment which should commit us further, 
but reserve ourselves to shape our future, measures or no 
measures, by the events which may happen. It is a sin 
gular phenomenon, that while our State governments are 
the very best in the world, without exception or comparison, 
our General Government has, in the rapid course of nine 
or ten years, become more arbitrary, and has swallowed 
more of the public liberty than even that of England. I in 
close you a column, cut out of a London paper, to show you 
that the English, though charmed with our making their 
enemies our enemies, yet blush and weep over our sedition 



Resolutions Relative to the Alien and Sedition Larvs 

1. Resolved, That the several States composing the 
United States of America, are not united on the principle 
of unlimited submission to their General Government ; but 
that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution 
for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they 
constituted a General Government for special purposes, 
delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserv 
ing, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their 
own self-government; and that whensoever the General 
Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are un- 
authoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact 
each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its 
co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the gov 
ernment created by this compact was not made the exclu 
sive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to 
itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not 
the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in 
all other cases of compact among powers having no com 
mon judge, each party has an equal right to judge for it 
self, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of 

2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, 
having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, 
counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United 
States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, 
and offences against the law of nations, and no other crimes 
whatsoever; and it being true as a general principle, and 
one of the amendments to the Constitution having also de 
clared, that "the powers not delegated to the United States 
by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are 
reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," there- 



fore the act of Congress, passed on the llth day of July, 
1798, and intituled "An Act in addition to the act inti 
tuled An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against 
the United States," as also the act passed by them 
on the - - day of June, 1798, intituled "An Act to 
punish frauds committed on the bank of the United States," 
(and all their other ?cts which assume to create, define, or 
punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Con 
stitution), are altogether void, and of no force; and that the 
power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is re 
served, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to 
the respective States, each within its own territory. 

3. Resolved, That it is true as a general principle, and is 
also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the 
Constitution, that "the powers not delegated to the United 
States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, 
are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people" ; 
and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of 
speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the 
United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the 
States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right 
remain, and were reserved to the States or the people: 
that thus was manifested their determination to retain to 
themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness 
of speech and of the press may be abridged without les 
sening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses 
which cannot be separated from their use should be toler 
ated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also 
they guarded against all abridgment by the United States 
of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and 
retained to themselves the right of protecting the same, 
as this State, by a law passed on the general demand of 
its citizens, had already protected them from all hu 
man restraint or interference. And that in addition to this 



general principle and express declaration, another and 
more special provision has been made by one of the amend 
ments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that 
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of 
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridg 
ing the freedom of speech or of the press : " thereby guard 
ing in the same sentence, and under the same words, the free 
dom of religion, of speech, and of the press : insomuch, that 
whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuar}^ which 
covers the others, and that libels, falsehood, and defamation, 
equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from 
the cognizance of federal tribunals. That, therefore, the 
act of Congress of the United States, passed on the llth 
day of July, 1798, intituled "An Act in addition to the act 
intituled An Act for the punishment of certain crimes 
against the United States," which does abridge the freedom 
of the press, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no 

4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction 
and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are ? 
that no power over them has been delegated to the United 
States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from 
their power over citizens. And it being true as a general 
principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution 
having also declared, that "the powers not delegated to 
the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it 
to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or 
to the people," the act of the Congress of the United 
States, passed on the day of July, 1798, intituled "An 
Act concerning aliens," which assumes powers over alien 
friends, not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is 
altogether void, and of no force. (....) 

7. Resolved, That the construction applied by the Gen 
eral Government (as is evidenced by sundry of their pro- 



ceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United 
States which delegate to Congress a power "to lay and col 
lect taxes, duties, imports, and excises, to pay the debts, and 
provide for the common defence and general welfare of the 
United States," and "to make all laws which shall be nec 
essary and proper for carrying into execution the powers 
vested by the Constitution in the government of the 
United States, or in any department or officer thereof," goes 
to the destruction of all limits prescribed to their power by 
the Constitution: that words meant by the instrument to be 
subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not 
to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, 
nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of 
that instrument: that the proceedings of the General Gov 
ernment under color of these articles, will be a fit and neces 
sary subject of revisal and correction, at a time of greater 
tranquillity, while those specified in the preceding resolu 
tions call for immediate redress. 

8. Resolved, That a committee of conference and corre 
spondence be appointed, who shall have in charge to com 
municate the preceding resolutions to the legislatures of the 
several States ; to assure them that this commonwealth con 
tinues in the same esteem of their friendship and union 
which it has manifested from that moment at which a com 
mon danger first suggested a common union: that it consid 
ers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly 
to those specified in their late federal compact, to be friend 
ly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: 
that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent 
and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by 
the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preserva 
tion : that it does also believe, that to take from the States 
all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a 
general and consolidated government, without regard to the 



special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in 
that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity 
of these States ; and that therefore this commonwealth is 
determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to 
undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, 
or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the 
delegated powers, the members of the General Government, 
being chosen by the people, a change by the people would 
be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are as 
sumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the 
act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural 
right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), 
to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power 
by others within their limits : that without this right, they 
would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of 
whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: 
that nevertheless, this commonwealth, from motives of re 
gard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communi 
cate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is 
proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the 
compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort 
of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a 
party, but merely the creature of the compact, and sub 
ject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment 
of those by whom, and for whose use itself and its 
powers were all created and modified : that if the acts be 
fore specified should stand, these conclusions would flow 
from them; that the General Government may place any 
act they think proper on the list of crimes, and punish 
it themselves whether enumerated or not enumerated by the 
Constitution as cognizable by them: that they may trans 
fer its cognizance to the President, or any other person, 
who may himself be the accuser, counsel, judge and jury, 
whose suspicions may be the evidence, his order the sen- 



tence, his officer the executioner, and his breast the sole 
record of the transaction: that a very numerous and valua 
ble description of the inhabitants of these States being, by 
this precedent, reduced, as outlaws, to the absolute dominion 
of one man, and the barrier of the Constitution thus swept 
away from us all, no rampart now remains against the pas 
sions and the powers of a majority in Congress to protect 
from a like exportation, or other more grievous punishment, 
the minority of the same body, the legislatures, judges, gov 
ernors, and counsellors of the States, nor their other peacea 
ble inhabitants, who may venture to reclaim the constitu 
tional rights and liberties of the States and people, or who 
for other causes, good or bad, may be obnoxious to the views, 
or marked by the suspicions of the President, or be thought 
dangerous to his or their election, or other interests, public 
or personal: that the friendless alien has indeed been se 
lected as the safest subject of a first experiment; but the 
citizen will soon follow, or rather, has already followed, for 
already has a sedition act marked him as its prey: that these 
and successive acts of the same character, unless arrested at 
the threshold, necessarily drive these States into revolution 
and blood, and will furnish new calumnies against republi 
can government, and new pretexts for those who wish it to 
be believed that man cannot be governed but by a rod of 
iron : that it would be a dangerous delusion were a confi 
dence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the 
safety of our rights : that confidence is everywhere the par 
ent of despotism free government is founded in jealousy, 
and not in confidence; it is jealousy and not confidence 
which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those 
whom we are obliged to trust with power : that our Constitu 
tion has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no fur 
ther, our confidence may go; and let the honest advocate of 
confidence read the alien and sedition acts, and say if the 



Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the govern 
ment it created, and whether we should be wise in destroy 
ing those limits. Let him say what the government is, if it 
be not a tyranny, which the men of our choice have con 
ferred on our President, and the President of our choice 
has assented to, and accepted over the friendly strangers to 
whom the mild spirit of our country and its laws have 
pledged hospitality and protection: that the men of our 
choice have more respected the bare suspicions of the Presi 
dent, than the solid right of innocence, the claims of justifi 
cation, the sacred force of truth, and the forms and sub 
stance of law and justice. In questions of power, then, let 
no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down 
from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. That this 
commonwealth does therefore call on its co-States for an 
expression of their sentiments on the acts concerning aliens, 
and for the punishment of certain crimes hereinbefore 
specified, plainly declaring whether these acts are or are not 
authorized by the federal compact. And it doubts not that 
their sense will be so announced as to prove their attach 
ment unaltered to limited government, whether general or 
particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co- 
States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked 
in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur 
with this commonwealth in considering the said acts as so 
palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undis 
guised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the 
measure of the powers of the General Government, but that 
it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all pow 
ers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the 
rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of 
the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the 
States (not merely as the cases made federal, casus feeder- 
is}, but in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their 



consent, but by others against their consent: that this would 
be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, 
and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and 
not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to 
their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in 
declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take 
measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, 
nor any others of the General Government not plainly and 
intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exer 
cised within their respective territories. 

9- Resolved, That the said committee be authorized to 
communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any 
times or places whatever, with any person or persons who 
may be appointed by any one or more co-States to corre 
spond or confer with them; and that they lay their pro 
ceedings before the next session of Assembly. 

On Yellow Fever and Growth of Cities 

To Dr. Benjamin Rush 

MONTICELLO, September 23, 1800. 

Dear Sir: I congratulate you on the healthiness of your 
city. Still Baltimore, Norfolk and Providence admonish 
us that we are not clear of our new scourge. When great 
evils happen, I am in the habit of looking out for what 
good may arise from them as consolations to us, and Provi 
dence has in fact so established the order of things, as that 
most evils are the means of producing some good. The yel 
low fever will discourage the growth of great cities in our 
nation, and I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, 
the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish 
some of the elegant arts, but the useful ones can thrive else- 



where, and less perfection in the others, with more health, 
virtue and freedom, would be my choice. 

First Inauguration Address March 4, 1801 

Friends and Fellow Citizens: Called upon to undertake 
the duties of the first executive office of our country, I avail 
myself of the presence of that portion of my fellow-citizens 
which is here assembled, to express my grateful thanks for 
the favor with which they have been pleased to look toward 
me, to declare a sincere consciousness that the task is above 
my talents, and that I approach it with those anxious and 
awful presentiments which the greatness of the charge and 
the weakness of my powers so justly inspire. A rising na 
tion, spread over a wide and fruitful land, traversing all the 
seas with the rich productions of their industry, engaged in 
commerce with nations who feel power and forget right, ad 
vancing rapidly to destinies beyond the reach of mortal eye 
when I contemplate these transcendent objects, and see 
the honor, the happiness, and the hopes of this beloved 
country committed to the issue and the auspices of this day, 
I shrink from the contemplation, and humble myself before 
the magnitude of the undertaking. Utterly indeed, should 
I despair, did not the presence of many whom I here see 
remind me, that in the other high authorities provided by 
our constitution, I shall find resources of wisdom, of virtue, 
and of zeal, on which to rely under all difficulties. To you, 
then, gentlemen, who are charged with the sovereign func 
tions of legislation, and to those associated with you, I look 
with encouragement for that guidance and support which 
may enable us to steer with safety the vessel in which we 
are all embarked amid the conflicting elements of a troubled 



During the contest of opinion through which we have 
passed, the animation of discussion and of exertions has 
sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers 
unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they 
think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, 
announced according to the rules of the constitution, all 
will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, 
<.nd unite in common efforts for the common good. .All, too, 
will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will 
of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be 
rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their 
equal rights, which equal laws must protect, nad to violate 
which would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, 
unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social 
intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty 
and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect 
that having banished from our land that religious intolerance 
under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet 
gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as 
despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody per 
secutions. During the throes and convulsions of the ancient 
Avorld, during the agonizing spasms of infuriated man, seek 
ing through blood and slaughter his long-lost liberty, it 
was not wonderful that the agitation of the billows should 
reach even this distant and peaceful shore; that this should 
be more felt and feared by some and less by others ; that 
this should divide opinions as to measures of safety. But 
every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. 
AVe have called by different names brethren of the same 
principle. AVe are all republicans we are federalists. If 
there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this 
Union or to change its republican form, let them stand un 
disturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of 
opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat 



it. I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a repub 
lican government cannot be strong; that this government is 
not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full 
tide of successful experiment, abandon a government which 
has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and vi 
sionary fear that this government, the world s best hope, 
may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust 
not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest govern 
ment on earth. I believe it is the only one where every man, 
at the call of the laws, would fly to the standard of the law, 
and would meet invasions of the public order as his own 
personal concern. Sometimes it is said that man cannot be 
trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be 
trusted with the government of others? Or have we found 
angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history 
answer this question. 

Let us, then, with courage and confidence pursue our own 
federal and republican principles, our attachment to our 
union and representative government. Kindly separated by 
nature and a wide ocean from the exterminating havoc of 
one quarter of the globe; too high-minded to endure the 
degradations of the others; possessing a chosen country, 
with room enough for our descendants to the hundredth and 
thousandth generation; entertaining a due sense of our 
equal right to the use of our own faculties, to the acquisi 
tions of our industry, to honor and confidence from our fel 
low-citizens, resulting not from birth but from our actions 
and their sense of them; enlightened by a benign religion, 
professed, indeed, and practised in various forms, yet all 
of them including honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and 
the love of man ; acknowledging and adoring an overruling 
Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it de 
lights in the happiness of man here and his greater happi 
ness hereafter; with all these blessings, what more is neces- 



sary to make us a happy and prosperous people ? Still one 
thing more, fellow citizens a wise and frugal government, 
which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which 
shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pur 
suits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from 
the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the 
sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the 
circle of our felicities. 

About to enter, fellow citizens, on the exercise of duties 
which comprehend everything dear and valuable to you, it is 
proper that you should understand what I deem the essen 
tial principles of our government, and consequently those 
which ought to shape its administration. I will compress 
them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating 
the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and 
exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, re 
ligious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship, 
with all nations entangling alliances with none; the sup 
port of the state governments in all their rights, as the most 
competent administrations for our domestic concerns and 
the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies ; the 
preservation of the General Government in its whole con 
stitutional vigor, as the sheet-anchor of our peace at home 
and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by 
the people a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are 
lopped by the sword of the revolution where peaceable reme 
dies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions 
of the majority the vital principle of republics, from 
which there is no appeal but to force the vital principle and 
immediate parent of despotism; a well-disciplined militia 
our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, 
till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil 
over the military authority ; economy in the public expense, 
that labor may be lightly burdened ; the honest payment of 



our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; en 
couragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its hand 
maid ; the diffusion of information and the arraignment of 
all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; 
freedom of the press ; freedom of person under the pro 
tection of the habeas corpus; and trial by juries impartially 
selected these principles form the bright constellation 
which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an 
age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our 
sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their 
attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith 
the text of civil instruction the touchstone by which to 
try the services of those we trust; and should we wander 
from them in moments of error or alarm, let us hasten to 
retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to 
peace, liberty, and safety. 

I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have as 
signed me. With experience enough in subordinate offices 
to have seen the difficulties of this, the greatest of all, I 
have learned to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of 
imperfect man to retire from this station with the reputation 
and the favor which bring him into it. Without pretensions 
to that high confidence reposed in our first and great revolu 
tionary character, whose preeminent services had entitled 
him to the first place in his country s love, and destined for 
him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask 
so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to 
the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go 
wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall 
often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not 
command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indul 
gence for my own errors, which will never be intentional; 
and your support against the errors of others, who may con 
demn what they would not if seen in all its parts. The 



approbation implied by your suffrage is a consolation to 
me for the past; and my future solicitude will be to retain 
the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, 
to conciliate that of others by doing them all the good in 
my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and free 
dom of all. 

Relying, then, on the patronage of your good-will, I ad 
vance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it 
whenever you become sensible how much better choice it is 
in your power to make. And may that Infinite Power which 
rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what 
is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and 

First Message to Congress 

DECEMBER 8, 1801. 

Sir: The circumstances under which we find ourselves 
placed rendering inconvenient the mode heretofore prac 
tised of making by personal address the first communica 
tion between the legislative and executive branches, I have 
adopted that by message, as used on all subsequent occa 
sions through the session. In doing this, I have had prin 
cipal regard to the convenience of the legislature, to the 
economy of their time, to their relief from the embarrass 
ment of immediate answers on subjects not yet fully before 
them, and to the benefits thence resulting to the public af 
fairs. Trusting that a procedure founded in these motives 
will meet their approbation, I beg leave, through you, sir, to 
communicate the inclosed message, with the documents ac 
companying it, to the honorable the senate, and pray you 
to accept, for yourself and them, the homage of my high 
respect and consideration. 

The Hon. the President of the Senate. 

Tribute to Samuel Adams 

WASHINGTON, March 29, 1801. 

I addressed a letter to you, my very dear and ancient 
friend, on the 4th of March : not indeed to you by name, but 
through the medium of some of my felloAV-citizens, whom 
occasion called on me to address. In meditating the matter 
of that address, I often asked myself, is this exactly in the 
spirit of the patriarch, Samuel Adams? Is it as he would 
express it? Will he approve of it? I have felt a great 
deal for our country in the times we have seen. But indi 
vidually for no one so much as yourself. When I have been 
told that you were avoided, insulted, frowned on, I could 
but ejaculate, "P ather, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do." I confess I felt an indignation for you, 
which for myself I have been able, under every trial, to 
keep entirely passive. However, the storm is over, and we 
are in port. The ship was not rigged for the service she was 
put on. We will show the smoothness of her motions on her 
republican tack. I hope we shall once more see harmony 
restored among our citizens, and an entire oblivion of past 
feuds. Some of the leaders who have most committed them 
selves cannot come into this. But I hope the great body of 
our fellow-citizens will do it. I will sacrifice everything but 
principle to procure it. A few examples of justice on offi 
cers who have perverted their functions to the oppression 
of their fellow-citizens, must, in justice to those citizens, be 
made. But opinion, and the just maintenance of it, shall 
never be a crime in my view, nor bring injury on the indi 
vidual. Those whose misconduct in office ought to have pro 
duced their removal even by my predecessor, must not be 
protected by the delicacy due only to honest men. How 
much I lament that time has deprived me of your aid! It 



would have been a day of glory which should have cnlled 
you to the first office of the administration. But give us 
your counsel, my friend, and give us your blessing; and be 
assured that there exists not in the heart of man a more 
faithful esteem than mine to you, and that I shall ever bear 
you the most affectionate veneration and respect. 

On the Policy as to Purchase of Louisiana 

To the United States Minister to France 
(Robert E. Livingston^) 

WASHINGTON, April 18, 1802. 

The cession of Louisiana and the Floridas by Spain to 
France, works most sorely on the United States. On this 
subject the Secretary of State has written to you fully, yet 
I cannot forbear recurring to it personally, so deep is the 
impression it makes on my mind. It completely reverses all 
the political relations of the United States, and will form a 
new epoch in our political course. Of all nations of any 
consideration, France is the one which, hitherto, has offered 
the fewest points on which we could have any conflict of 
right, and the most points of a communion of interests. 
From these causes, we have ever looked to her as our 
natural friend, as one with which we never could have an 
occasion of difference. Her growth, therefore, we viewed as 
our own, her misfortunes ours. There is on the globe one 
single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habit 
ual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce 
of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and 
from its fertility it will erelong yield more than half of our 
whole produce, and contain more than half of our inhabi 
tants. France, placing herself in that door, assumes to us 



the attitude of defiance. Spain might have retained it quiet 
ly for years. Her pacific dispositions, her feeble state, 
would induce her to increase our facilities there, so that her 
possession of the place would be hardly felt by us, and it 
would not, perhaps, be very long before some circumstance 
might arise, which might make the cession of it to us the 
price of something of more worth to her. Not so can it ever 
be in the hands of France: the impetuosity of her temper, 
the energy and restlessness of her character, placed in a 
point of eternal friction with us, and our character, which, 
though quiet and loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is 
high-minded, despising wealth in competition with insult or 
injury, enterprising and energetic as any nation on earth; 
these circumstances render it impossible that France and 
the United States can continue long friends, when they meet 
in so irritable a position. They, as well as we, must be 
blind if they do not see this ; and we must be very improvi 
dent if we do not begin to make arrangements on that hy 
pothesis. The day that France takes possession of New Or 
leans, fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever 
within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two na 
tions, who. in conjunction, can maintain exclusive possession 
of the ocean. From that moment, we must marry ourselves 
to the British fleet and nation. We must turn all our atten 
tion to a maritime force, for which our resources place us on 
very high ground ; and having formed and connected to 
gether a power which may render reenforcement of her set 
tlements here impossible to France, make the first cannon 
which shall be fired in Europe the signal for the tearing up 
any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two 
continents of America in sequestration for the common pur 
poses of the United British and American nations. This is 
not a state of things we seek or desire. It is one which this 
measure, if adopted by France, forces on us as necessarily, 



as any other cause, by the laws of nature, brings on its nec 
essary effect. It is not irom a fear of France that we de 
precate this measure proposed by her. For however greater 
her force is than ours, compared in the abstract, it is noth 
ing in comparison of ours, when to be exerted on our soil. 
But it is from a sincere love of peace, and a firm persuasion, 
that bound to France by the interests and the strong sympa 
thies still existing in the minds of our citizens, and holding 
relative positions which insure their continuance, we are se 
cure of a long course of peace. Whereas, the change of 
friends, which will be rendered necessary if France changes 
that position, embarks us necessarily as a belligerent power 
in the first war of Europe. In that case, France will have 
held possession of New Orleans during the interval of a 
peace, long or short, at the end of which it will be wrested 
from her. Will this short-lived possession have been an 
equivalent to her for the transfer of such a weight into the 
scale of her enemy ? Will not the amalgamation of a young, 
thriving nation, continue to that enemy the health and force 
which are at present so evidently on the decline? And will 
a few years possession of New Orleans add equally to 
the strength of France? She may say she needs Louisiana 
for the supply of her West Indies. She does not need it in 
time of peace, and in war she could not depend on them, be 
cause they would be so easily intercepted. I should suppose 
that all these considerations might, in some proper form, be 
brought into view of the Government of France. Though 
stated by us, it ought not to give offence; because we do not 
bring them forward as a menace, but as consequences not 
controllable by us, but inevitable from the course of things. 
We mention them, not as things which we desire by any 
means, but as things we deprecate; and we beseech a friend 
to look forward and to prevent them for our common inter 



If France considers Louisiana, however, as indispensable 
for her views, she might perhaps be willing to look about 
for arrangements which might reconcile it to our interests. 
If anything could do this, it would be the ceding to us the 
island of New Orleans and the Floridas. This would cer 
tainly, in a great degree, remove the causes of jarring and 
irritation between us, and perhaps for such a length of time, 
as might produce other means of making the measure per 
manently conciliatory to our interests and friendships. It 
would, at any rate, relieve us from the necessity of taking 
immediate measures for countervailing such an operation 
by arrangements in another quarter. But still we should 
consider New Orleans and the Floridas as no equivalent 
for the risk of a quarrel with France, produced by her 
vicinage. . . . 

Every eye in the United States is now fixed on the affairs 
of Louisiana. Perhaps nothing since the revolutionary war, 
has produced more uneasy sensations through the body of 
the nation. Notwithstanding temporary bickerings have 
taken place with France, she has still a strong hold on the 
affections of our citizens generally. I have thought it not 
amiss, by way of supplement to the letters of the 
Secretary of State, to write you this private one, to impress 
you with the importance we affix to this transaction. I pray 
you to cherish Dupont. He has the best disposition for the 
continuance of friendship between the two nations, and 
perhaps you may be able to make a good use of him. 

Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem and high 


On the Colonization of Slaves in Sierra Leone 

To Rufus King 

WASHINGTON, July 13, 1802. 

Dear Sir: The course of things in the neighboring isl 
ands of the West Indies, appear to have given a consider 
able impulse to the minds of the slaves in different parts 
of the United States. A great disposition to insurgency 
has manifested itself among them, which, in one instance, 
in the State of Virginia, broke out into actual insurrec 
tion. This was easily suppressed; but many of those con 
cerned (between twenty and thirty, I believe) fell victims 
to the law. So extensive an execution could not but excite 
sensibility in the public mind, and begat a regret that the 
laws had not provided for such cases, some alternative, 
combining more mildness with equal efficacy. The Legis 
lature of the State at a subsequent meeting took the sub 
ject into consideration, and have communicated to me 
through the Governor of the State, their wish that some 
place could be provided, out of the limits of the United 
States, to which slaves guilty of insurgency might be trans 
ported ; and they have particularly looked to Africa as 
offering the most desirable receptacle. We might, for this 
purpose, enter into negotiations with the natives, on some 
part of the coast, to obtain a settlement; and, by estab 
lishing an African company, combine with it commercial 
operations, which might not only reimburse expenses, but 
procure profit also. But there being already such an 
establishment on that coast by the English Sierra Leone 
company, made for the express purpose of colonizing civ 
ilized blacks to that country, it would seem better, by in 
corporating our emigrants with theirs, to make one strong, 



rather than two weak colonies. This would be the more 
desirable because the blacks settled at Sierra Leone, hav 
ing chiefly gone from the States,, would often receive 
among those we should send, their acquaintances and rela 
tives. The object of this letter, therefore, is to ask the 
favor of you to enter into conference with such persons 
private and public as would be necessary to give us per 
mission to send thither the persons under contemplation. 
It is material to observe that they are not felons, or 
common malefactors, but persons guilty of what the safety 
of society, under actual circumstances, obliges us to treat 
as a crime, but which their feelings may represent in a far 
different shape. They are such as will be a valuable 
acquisition to the settlement already existing there, and 
well calculated to cooperate in the plan of civilization. 

As the expense of so distant a transportation would be 
very heavy, and might weigh unfavorably in deciding be 
tween the modes of punishment, it is very desirable that it 
should be lessened as much as practicable. If the regula 
tions of the place would permit these emigrants to dispose 
of themselves, as the Germans and others do who come to 
this country poor, by giving their labor for a certain time 
to some one who will pay their passage ; and if the master 
of the vessel could be permitted to carry articles of com 
merce from this country and take back others from that, 
which might yield him a mercantile profit sufficient to 
cover the expenses of the voyage, a serious difficulty would 
be removed. I will ask your attention therefore to ar 
rangements necessary for this purpose. 

The consequences of permitting emancipations to become 
extensive, unless the condition of emigration be annexed 
to them, furnish also matter of solicitation to the Legis 
lature of Virginia, as you will perceive by their resolution 
inclosed to you. Although provision for the settlement of 



emancipated negroes might perhaps be obtainable nearer 
home than Africa, yet it is desirable that we should be 
free to expatriate this description of people also to the 
colony of Sierra Leone, if considerations respecting either 
themselves or us should render it more expedient. I will 
pray you therefore to get the same permission extended to 
the reception of these as well as the first mentioned. Nor 
will there be a selection of bad subjects; the emancipations, 
for the most part, being either of the whole slaves of the 
master, or of such individuals as have particularly de 
served well; the latter is most frequent. 

On Indian Policy 

To General Andrew Jackson 

WASHINGTON, February 16 , 1803. 

Dear Sir: Your favor of the 14th was received on the 
same day, and will be duly attended to in the course of 
our affairs with the Creeks. In keeping agents among the 
Indians, two objects are principally in view: 1. The pres 
ervation of peace. 2. The obtaining lands. Toward ef 
fecting the latter object, we consider the leading the Ind 
ians to agriculture as the principal means from which we 
can expect much effect in future. When they shall cul 
tivate small spots of earth, and see how useless their 
extensive forests are, they will sell, from time to time, 
to help out their personal labor in stocking their farms 
and procuring clothes and comforts from our trading 
houses. Toward the attainment of our two objects of 
peace and lands, it is essential that our agent acquire that 
sort of influence over the Indians, which rests on confidence. 



On Religion 

To Doctor Benjamin Rush 

WASHINGTON, April 21, 1803. 

Dear Sir: In some of the delightful conversations with 
you, in the evenings of 1798-99, and which served as an 
anodyne to the afflictions of the crisis through which our 
country was then laboring, the Christian religion was 
sometimes our topic; and I then promised you, that one 
day or other, I would give you my views of it. They 
are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very 
different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me 
by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the cor 
ruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not 
to the genuine precepts of Jesus Himself. I am a Chris 
tian, in the only sense in which He wished any one to be: 
sincerely attached to His doctrines, in preference to all 
others ; ascribing to Himself every human excellence ; and 
believing He never claimed any other. At the short in 
terval since these conversations, when I could justifiably 
abstract my mind from public affairs, the subject has been 
under my contemplation. But the more I considered it, the 
more it expanded beyond the measure of either my time 
or information. In the moment of my late departure from 
Monticello, I received from Dr. Priestley, his little treatise 
of "Socrates and Jesus Compared." This being a section 
of the general view I had taken of the field, it became a 
subject of reflection while on the road, and unoccupied 
otherwise. The result was, to arrange in my mind a 
syllabus, or outline of such an estimate of the compara 
tive merits of Christianity, as I wished to see executed by 
some one of more leisure and information for the task, 


than myself. This I now send you, as the only discharge 
of my promise I can probably ever execute. And in 
confiding it to you, I know it will not be exposed to the 
malignant perversions of those who make every word from 
me a text for new misrepresentations and calumnies. I am 
moreover averse to the communication of my religious 
tenets to the public, because it would countenance the pre 
sumption of those who have endeavored to draw them be 
fore that tribunal, and to seduce public opinion to erect 
itself into that inquisition over the rights of conscience, 
which the laws have so justly proscribed. It behooves 
every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to 
resist invasions of it in the case of others, or their case 
may, by change of circumstances, become his own. It 
behooves him, too, in his own case, to give no example of 
concession, betraying the common right of independent 
opinion, by answering questions of faith, which the laws 
have left between God and himself. Accept my affection 
ate salutations. 

Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of 
Jesus, compared with those of others 

In a comparative view of the ethics of the enlightened 
nations of antiquity, of the Jews and of Jesus, no notice 
should be taken of the corruptions of reason among the 
ancients, to wit, the idolatry and superstition of the vul 
gar, nor of the corruptions of Christianity by the learned 
among its professors. 

Let a just view be taken of the moral principles incul 
cated by the most esteemed of the sects of ancient phi 
losophy, or of their individuals ; particularly Pythagoras, 
Socrates, Epicurus, Cicero, Epictetus, Seneca, Antoninus. 



1. Philosophers. 1. Their precepts related chiefly to 
ourselves, and the government of those passions which, un 
restrained, would disturb our tranquillity of mind. In this 
branch of philosophy they were really great. 

2. In developing our duties to others, they were short 
and defective. They embraced, indeed, the circles of kin 
dred and friends, and inculcated patriotism, or the love of 
our country in the aggregate, as a primary obligation: tow 
ard our neighbors and countrymen they taught justice, 
but scarcely viewed them as within the circle of benevo 
lence. Still less have they inculcated peace, charity, and 
love to our fellow men, or embraced with benevolence the 
whole family of mankind. 

II. Jews. 1. Their system was Deism; that is, the be 
lief in one only God. But their ideas of Him and of His 
attributes were degrading and injurious. 

2. Their ethics were not only imperfect, but often ir 
reconcilable with the sound dictates of reason and morality, 
as they respect intercourse with those around us; and 
repulsive and anti-social, as respecting other nations. They 
needed reformation, therefore, in an eminent degree. 

III. Jesus. In this state of things among the Jews, 
Jesus appeared. His parentage was obscure; His condition 
poor; His education null; His natural endowments great; 
His life correct and innocent; He was meek, benevolent, 
patient, firm, disinterested, and of the sublimest eloquence. 

The disadvantages under which His doctrines appear are 

1. Like Socrates and Epictetus, He wrote nothing Him 

2. But He had not, like them, a Xenophon or an Arrian 
to write for Him. I name not Plato, who only used the 
name of Socrates to cover the whimsies of his own brain. 
On the contrary, all the learned of His country, intrenched 



in its power and riches, were opposed to Him, lest His 
labors should undermine their advantages; and the com 
mitting to writing His life and doctrines fell on unlettered 
and ignorant men, who wrote, too, from memory, and not 
till long after the transactions had passed. 

3. According to the ordinary fate of those who attempt 
to enlighten and reform mankind, He fell an early victim 
to the jealousy and combination of the altar and the throne, 
at about thirty-three years of age, His reason having not 
yet attained the maximum of its energy, nor the course of 
His preaching, which was but of three years at most, pre 
sented occasions for developing a complete system of 

4. Hence the doctrines which He really delivered were 
defective as a whole, and fragments only of what He did 
deliver have come to us mutilated, misstated, and often un 

5. They have been still more disfigured by the corrup 
tions of schismatizing followers, who have found an in 
terest in sophisticating and perverting the simple doctrines 
He taught, by engrafting on them the mysticisms of a 
Grecian sophist, frittering them into subtleties, and ob 
scuring them with jargon, until they have caused good 
men to reject the whole in disgust, and to view Jesus Him 
self as an impostor. 

Notwithstanding these disadvantages, a system of 
morals is presented to us which, if filled up in the style 
and spirit of the rich fragments He left us, would be the 
most perfect and sublime that has ever been taught by man. 

The question of His being a member of the Godhead, 
or in direct communication with it, claimed for Him by 
some of His followers, and denied by others, is foreign 
to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the 
intrinsic merits of His doctrines. 



1. He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them 
in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster no 
tions of His attributes and government. 

2. His moral doctrines, relating to kindred and friends, 
were more pure and perfect than those of the most correct 
of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the 
Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating uni 
versal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to 
neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering 
all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, 
common wants, and common aids. A development of this 
head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of 
Jesus over all others. 

3. The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, 
laid hold of actions only. He pushed His scrutinies into 
the heart of man; erected His tribunal in the region of his 
thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain-head. 

4. He taught, emphatically, the doctrines of a future 
state, which was either doubted, or disbelieved by the Jews; 
and wielded it with efficacy, as an important incentive, sup 
plementary to the other motives to moral conduct. 

On the Constitutionality of the Louisiana 

To Wilson C, Nicholas 

MONTICELLO, September 7, 1803. 

Dear Sir: I inclose you a letter from Monroe on the 
subject of the late treaty. You will observe a hint in it, 
to do without delay what we are bound to do. There is 
reason, in the opinion of our ministers, to believe, that if 
the thing were to do over again, it could not be obtained, 



and that if we give the least opening they will declare the 
treaty void. A warning amounting to that has been given 
to them, and an unusual kind of letter written by their 
minister to our Secretary of State, direct. Whatever Con 
gress shall think it necessary to do, should be done with 
as little debate as possible, and particularly so far as re 
spects the constitutional difficulty. I am aware of the 
force of the observations you make on the power given by 
the Constitution to Congress, to admit new States into the 
Union, without restraining the subject to the territory 
then constituting the United States. But when I consider 
that the limits of the United States are precisely fixed by 
the treaty of 1783, that the Constitution expressly declares 
itself to be made for the United States, I cannot help 
believing the intention was not to permit Congress to admit 
into the Union new States, which should be formed out of 
the territory for which, and under whose authority alone, 
they were then acting. I do not believe it was meant that 
they might receive England, Ireland, Holland, etc., into it, 
which would be the case on your construction. When an 
instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the 
other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I 
prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an 
enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found 
necessary, than to assume it by a construction which v/ould 
make our powers boundless. Our peculiar security is in 
the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make 
it a blank paper by construction. I say the same as to 
the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty- 
making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no 
Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than 
the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. 
It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the 
federal government, and gives all the powers necessary to 



carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated 
objects is proper for a law, Congress may make the law;, 
whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the 
President and Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever 
is to be done by a judicial sentence, the judges may pass 
the sentence. Nothing is more likely than that their enu 
meration of powers is defective. This is the ordinary case 
of all human works. Let us go on then perfecting it, by 
adding, by way of amendment to the Constitution, those 
powers which time and trial show are still wanting. But 
it has been taken too much for granted, that by this rigor 
ous construction the treaty power would be reduced to 
nothing. I had occasion once to examine its effect on the 
French treaty, made by the old Congress, and found that 
out of thirty odd articles which that contained, there were 
one, two, or three only which could not now be stipulated 
under our present Constitution. I confess, then, I think 
it important, in the present case, to set an example against 
broad construction, by appealing for new power to the 
people. If, however, our friends shall think differently, 
certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction ; confiding, that 
the good sense of our country will correct the evil of con 
struction when it shall produce ill effects. 

Third Annual Message October 17, 1803 

Congress witnessed, at their last session, the extraordi 
nary agitation produced in the public mind by the suspen 
sion of our right of deposit at the port of New Orleans, no 
assignment of another place having been made according 
to treaty. They were sensible that the continuance of that 
privation would be more injurious to our nation than any 
consequences which could flow from any mode of redress, 



but reposing just confidence in the good faith of the Gov 
ernment whose officer had committed the wrong, friendly 
and reasonable representations were resorted to, and the 
right of deposit was restored. 

Previous, however, to this period, we had not been un 
aware of the danger to which our peace would be perpetu 
ally exposed while sc important a key to the commerce of 
the Western country remained under foreign power. Diffi 
culties, too, were presenting themselves as to the navigation 
of other streams, which, arising within our territories, pass 
through those adjacent. Propositions had therefore been 
authorized for obtaining, on fair conditions, the sover 
eignty of New Orleans, and of other possessions in that 
quarter interesting to our quiet, to such extent as was 
deemed practicable; and the provisional appropriation of 
two millions of dollars, to be applied and accounted for 
by the President of the United States, intended as part of 
the price, was considered as conveying the sanction of Con 
gress to the acquisition proposed. The enlightened Gov 
ernment of France saw, with just discernment, the im 
portance to both nations of such liberal arrangements as 
might best and permanently promote the peace, friendship, 
and interests of both; and the property and sovereignty of 
all Louisiana, which had been restored to them, have on 
certain conditions been transferred to the United States 
by instruments bearing date the 30th of April last. When 
these shall have received the constitutional sanction of the 
Senate, they will without delay be communicated to the 
representatives also, for the exercise of their functions, as 
to those conditions which are within the powers vested by 
the Constitution in Congress. While the property and 
sovereignty of the Mississippi and its waters secure an in 
dependent outlet for the produce of the Western States, 
and an uncontrolled navigation through their whole course, 



free from collision with other powers and the dangers to 
our peace from that source, the fertility of the country, 
its climate and extent, promise in due season important 
aids to our treasury, an ample provision for our posterity, 
and a wide-spread field for the blessings of freedom and 
equal laws. 

With the wisdom of Congress it will rest to take those 
ulterior measures which may be necessary for the immedi 
ate occupation and temporary government of the country; 
for its incorporation into our Union; for rendering the 
change of government a blessing to our newly adopted 
brethren; for securing to them the rights of conscience and 
of property; for confirming to the Indian inhabitants their 
occupancy and self-government, establishing friendly and 
commercial relations with them, and for ascertaining the 
geography of the country acquired. Such materials for 
your information, relative to its affairs in general, as the 
ohort space of time has permitted me to collect, will be 
laid before you when the subject shall be in a state for 
your consideration. 

On Learning and Agriculture 

To David Williams 

WASHINGTON, November 14, 1803. 

Sir: The greatest evils of populous society have ever 
appeared to me to spring from the vicious distribution of 
its members among the occupations called for. I have no 
doubt that those nations are essentially right, which leave 
this to individual choice, as a better guide to an advan 
tageous distribution than any other which could be devised. 
But when, by a blind concourse, particular occupations are 



ruinously overcharged, and others left in want of hands, 
the national authorities can do much toward restoring the 
equilibrium. On the revival of letters, learning became the 
universal favorite. And with reason, because there was 
not enough of it existing to manage the affairs of a nation 
to the best advantage, nor to advance its individuals to the 
happiness of which they were susceptible, by improvements 
in their minds, their morals, their health, and in those con 
veniences which contribute to the comfort and embellish 
ment of life. All the efforts of the society, therefore, were 
directed to the increase of learning, and the inducements 
of respect, ease, and profit were held up for its encourage 
ment. Even the charities of the nation forgot that misery 
was their object, and spent themselves in founding schools 
to transfer to science the hardy sons of the plough. To 
these incitements were added the powerful fascinations of 
great cities. These circumstances have long since produced 
an overcharge in the class of competitors for learned oc 
cupation, and great distress among the supernumerary 
candidates; and the more, as their habits of life have dis 
qualified them for re-entering into the laborious class. 
The evil cannot be suddenly, nor perhaps ever entirely 
cured; nor should I presume to say by what means it may 
be cured. Doubtless there are many engines which the 
nation might bring to bear on this object. Public opinion, 
and public encouragement are among these. The class 
principally defective is that of agriculture. It is the first 
in utility, and ought to be the first in respect. The same 
artificial means which have been used to produce a com 
petition in learning, may be equally successful in restor 
ing agriculture to its primary dignity in the eyes of men. 
It is a science of the very first order. It counts among 
its handmaids the most respectable sciences, such as 
Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Mechanics, Mathematics 



general!} , Xatural History, Botany. In every College and 
University, a professorship of agriculture, and the class of 
its students, might be honored as the first. Young men 
closing their academical education with this, as the crown 
of all other sciences, fascinated with its solid charms, and 
at a time when they are to choose an occupation, instead of 
crowding the other classes, would return to the farms of 
their fathers, their own, or those of others, and replenish 
and invigorate a calling, now languishing under contempt 
and oppression. The charitable schools, instead of storing 
their pupils with a lore which the present state of society 
does not call for, converted into schools of agriculture, 
might restore them to that branch qualified to enrich and 
honor themselves, and to increase the productions of the 
nation instead of consuming them. A gradual abolition of 
the useless offices, so much accumulated in all governments, 
might close this drain also from the labors of the field, and 
lessen the burdens imposed on them. By these, and the 
better means which will occur to others, the surcharge of 
the learned, might in time be drawn off to recruit the labor 
ing class of citizens, the sum of industry be increased, and 
that of misery diminished. 

Among the ancients, the redundance of population was 
sometimes checked by exposing infants. To the moderns, 
America has offered a more humane resource. Many, who 
cannot find employment in Europe, accordingly come here. 
Those who can labor do well, for the most part. Of the 
learned class of emigrants, a small portion find employ 
ments analogous to their talents. But many fail, and re 
turn to complete their course of misery in the scenes where 
it began. Even here we find too strong a current from the 
country to the towns ; and instances beginning to appear of 
that species of misery, which you are so humanely en 
deavoring to relieve with you. Although we have in the 



old countries of Europe the lesson of their experience to 
warn us, yet I am not satisfied we shall have the firmness 
and wisdom to profit by it. The general desire of men to 
live by their heads rather than their hands, and the strong 
allurements of great cities to those who have any turn for 
dissipation, threaten to make them here, as in Europe, the 
sinks of voluntary misery. I perceive, however, that I 
have suffered my pen to run into a disquisition, when I had 
taken it up only to thank you for the volume you had been 
so kind as to send me, and to express my approbation of 
it. After apologizing, therefore, for having touched on a 
subject so much more familiar to you, and better under 
stood, I beg leave to assure you of my high consideration 
and respect. 

On the Danger of the National Bank to the 

To Albert Gallatin 

WASHINGTON, December 13, 1803. 

From a passage in the letter of the President, I ob 
serve an idea of establishing a branch bank of the United 
States in New Orleans. This institution is one of the 
most deadly hostility existing, against the principles and 
form of our Constitution. The nation is, at this time, so 
strong and united in its sentiments, that it cannot be 
shaken at this moment. But suppose a series of untoward 
events should occur, sufficient to bring into doubt the com 
petency of a republican government to meet the crisis of 
great danger, or to unhinge the confidence of the people 
in the public functionaries ; an institution like this, pene 
trating by its branches every part of the Union, acting by 



command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset 
the government. I deem no government safe which is 
under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or 
any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular 
functionaries. What an obstruction could not this bank of 
the United States, with all its branch banks, be in time 
of war! It might dictate to us the peace we should ac 
cept, or withdraw its aids. Ought we then to give further 
growth to an institution so powerful, so hostile? That it is 
so hostile we know: 1, from a knowledge of the principles 
of the persons composing the body of directors in every 
bank, principal or branch; and those of most of the stock 
holders ; 2, from their opposition to the measures and 
principles of the government, and to the election of those 
friendly to them; and 3, from the sentiments of the 
newspapers they support. Now, while we are strong, it 
is the greatest duty we owe to the safety of our Constitu 
tion, to bring this powerful enemy to a perfect subordina 
tion under its authorities. The first measure would be to 
reduce them to an equal footing only with other banks, as 
to the favors of the government. But, in order to be able 
to meet a general combination of the banks against us, in 
a critical emergency, could we not make a beginning tow 
ard an independent use of our own money, toward hold 
ing our own bank in all the deposits where it is received, 
and letting the treasurer give his draft or note for pay 
ment at any particular place, which, in a well-conducted 
government, ought to have as much credit as any private 
draft, or bank-note, or bill, and would give us the same 
facilities which we derive from the banks? 



Advance toward Reconciliation with John 

To Mrs. John Adams 

WASHINGTON, June 13, 1804. 

Dear Madam: The affectionate sentiments which you 
have had the goodness to express in your letter of May 
the 20th, toward my dear departed daughter, have awak 
ened in me sensibilities natural to the occasion, and re 
called your kindnesses to her, which I shall ever remember 
with gratitude and friendship. I can assure you with 
truth, they had made an indelible impression on her mind, 
and that to the last, on our meetings after long separa 
tions, whether I had heard lately of you, and how you did, 
were among the earliest of her inquiries. In giving you 
this assurance I perform a sacred duty for her, and, at 
the same time, am thankful for the occasion furnished 
me, of expressing my regret that circumstances should 
have arisen, which have seemed to draw a line of separa 
tion between us. The friendship with which you honored 
me has ever been valued, and fully reciprocated; and al 
though events have been passing which might be trying to 
some minds, I never believed yours to be of that kind, 
nor felt that my own was. Neither my estimate of your 
character, nor the esteem founded in that, has ever been 
lessened for a single moment, although doubts whether 
it would be acceptable may have forbidden manifestations 
of it. 

Mr. Adams friendship and mine began at an earlier 
date. It accompanied us through long and important 
scenes. The different conclusions we had drawn from our 
political reading and reflections, were not permitted to les- 


sen personal esteem, each party being conscious they were 
the result of an honest conviction in the other. Like 
differences of opinion existing among our fellow-citizens, 
attached them to one or the other of us, and produced a 
rivalship in their minds which did not exist in ours. We 
never stood in one another s way; for if either had been 
withdrawn at any time, his favorers would not have gone 
over to the other, but would have sought for some one of 
homogeneous opinions. This consideration was sufficient 
to keep down all jealousy between us, and to guard our 
friendship from any disturbance by sentiments of rival- 
ship ; and I can say with truth, that one act of Mr. Adams 
life, and one only, ever gave me a moment s personal dis 
pleasure. I did consider his last appointments to office as 
personally unkind. They were from among my most 
ardent political enemies, from whom no faithful co-opera 
tion could ever be expected, and laid me under the embar 
rassment of acting through men whose views were to de 
feat mine, or to encounter the odium of putting others in 
their places. It seems but common justice to leave a suc 
cessor free to act by instruments of his own choice. If my 
respect for him did not permit me to ascribe the whole 
blame to the influence of others, it left something for 
friendship to forgive, and after brooding over it for some 
little time, and not always resisting the expression of it, 
I forgave it cordially, and returned to the same state of 
esteem and respect for him which had so long subsisted. 
Having come into life a little later than Mr. Adams, his 
career has preceded mine, as mine is followed by some 
other; and it will probably be closed at the same distance 
after him which time originally placed between us. I 
maintain for him, and shall carry into private life, an uni 
form and high measure of respect and good-will, and for 
yourself a sincere attachment. 



I have thus, my dear Madam, opened myself to you 
without reserve, which I have long wished an opportunity 
of doing; and, without knowing how it will be received, 
I feel relief from being unbosomed. And I have now 
only to entreat your forgiveness for this transition from a 
subject of domestic affliction, to one which seems of a dif 
ferent aspect. But though connected with political events, 
it has been viewed by me most strongly in its unfortunate 
bearings on my private friendships. The injury these 
have sustained has been a heavy price for what has never 
given me equal pleasure. That you may both be favored 
with health, tranquillity, and long life is the prayer of one 
who tenders you the assurance of his highest consideration 
and esteem. 

On the Loss of Ms Daughter 

To Governor John Page 

WASHINGTON, June 25, 1804. 

Others may lose of their abundance, but I, of my want, 
have lost even the half of all I had. My evening pros 
pects now hang on the slender thread of a single life. 
Perhaps I may be destined to see even this last cord of 
parental affection broken ! The hope with which I had 
looked forward to the moment, when, resigning public 
cares to younger hands, I was to retire to that domestic 
comfort from which the last great step is to be taken, 
is fearfully blighted. When you and I look back on the 
country over which we have passed, what a field of 
slaughter does it exhibit ! Where are all the friends who 
entered it with us, under all the inspiring energies of 
health and hope ? As if pursued by the havoc of war, they 



are strewed by the way, some earlier, some later, and 
scarce a few stragglers remain to count the numbers 
fallen, and to mark yet, by their own fall, the last foot 
steps of their party. Is it a desirable thing to bear up 
through the heat of the action, to witness the death of all 
our companions, and merely be the last victim? I doubt 
it. We have, however, the traveller s consolation. Every 
step shortens the distance we have to go ; the end of our 
journey is in sight, the bed wherein we are to rest, and 
to rise in the midst of the friends we have lost. "We 
sorrow not then as others who have no hope" ; but look 
forward to the day which "joins us to the great majority." 
But whatever is to be our destiny, wisdom, as well as 
duty, dictates that we should acquiesce in the will of Him 
whose it is to give and take away, and be contented in the 
enjoyment of those who are still permitted to be with us. 
Of those connected by blood, the number does not depend 
on us. But friends we have, if we have merited them. 
Those of our earliest years stand nearest in our affections. 
But in this, too, you and I have been unlucky. Of our 
college friends (and they are the dearest) how few have 
stood with us in the great political questions which have 
agitated our country; and these were of a nature to justify 
agitation. I did not believe the Lilliputian fetters of that 
day strong enough to have bound so many. Will not Mrs. 
Page, yourself and family, think it prudent to seek a 
healthier region for the months of August and September? 
And may we not flatter ourselves that you will cast your 
eye on Monticello? We have not many summers to live. 
While fortune places us, then, within striking distance, let 
us avail ourselves of it, to meet and talk over the tales of 
other times. 


On Politics 

To Judge John Tyler 

WASHINGTON, June 28, 1804. 

The terms in which you are so good as to express your 
satisfaction with the course of the present administration 
cannot but give me great pleasure. I may err in my meas 
ures, but never shall deflect from the intention to fortify 
the public liberty by every possible means, and to put it 
out of the power of the few to riot on the labors of the 
many. No experiment can be more interesting than that 
we are now trying, and which we trust will end in estab 
lishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and 
truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open 
to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual 
hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, there 
fore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation 
of their actions. The firmness with which the people have 
withstood the late abuses of the press, the discernment they 
have manifested between truth and falsehood, show that 
they may safely be trusted to hear everything true and 
false, and to form a correct judgment between them. As 
little is it necessary to impose on their senses, or dazzle 
their minds by pomp, splendor, or forms. Instead of this 
artificial, how much surer is that real respect, which re 
sults from the use of their reason and the habit of bringing 
everything to the test of common sense. 



Qualifies Condemnation of Cities and Manu 

To Mr. Lithson 

WASHINGTON, January 4, 1805. 

Mr. Duane informed me that he meant to publish a new 
edition of the "Notes on Virginia/ and I had in contempla 
tion some particular alterations which would require little 
time to make. My occupations by no means permit me at 
this time to revise the text, and make those changes in it 
which I should now do. I should in that case certainly 
qualify several expressions in the nineteenth chapter, 
which have been construed differently from what they were 
intended. I had under my eye, when writing, the manu 
facturers of the great cities in the old countries, at the 
present time, with whom the want of food and clothing 
necessary to sustain life, has begotten a depravity of 
morals, a dependence and corruption, which renders them 
an undesirable accession to a country whose morals are 
sound. My expressions looked forward to the time when 
our own great cities would get into the same state. But 
they have been quoted as if meant for the present time 
here. As yet our manufacturers are as much at their ease, 
as independent and moral as our agricultural inhabitants, 
and they will continue so as long as there are vacant lands 
for them to resort to; because whenever it shall be at 
tempted by the other classes to reduce them to the mini 
mum of subsistence, they will quit their trades and go to 
laboring the earth. A first question is, Whether it is de 
sirable for us to receive at present the dissolute and 
demoralized handicraftsmen of the old cities of Europe? 
A second and more difficult one is, when even good handi- 



craftsmen arrive here, is it better for them to set up their 
trade, or go to the culture of the earth? Whether their 
labor in their trade is worth more than their labor on the 
soil, increased by the creative energies of the earth? Had 
I time to revise that chapter, this question should be dis 
cussed, and other views of the subject taken, which are 
presented by the wonderful changes which have taken 
place here since 1781, when the "Notes on Virginia" were 
written. Perhaps when I retire, I may amuse myself 
with a serious review of this work; at present it is out of 
the question. Accept my salutations and good wishes. 

Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1805 

Proceeding, fellow-citizens, to that qualification which 
the Constitution requires before my entrance on the charge 
again conferred upon me, it is my duty to express the deep 
sense I entertain of this new proof of confidence from my 
fellow-citizens at large, and the zeal with which it inspires 
me, so to conduct myself as may best satisfy their just 

On taking this station on a former occasion, I declared 
the principles on which I believed it my duty to administer 
the affairs of our commonwealth. My conscience tells me 
that I have, on every occasion, acted up to that declaration, 
according to its obvious import, and to the understanding 
of every candid mind. 

In the transaction of your foreign affairs, we have en 
deavored to cultivate the friendship of all nations, and 
especially of those with which we have the most important 
relations. We have done them justice on all occasions, 
favored where favor was lawful, and cherished mutual in 
terests and intercourse on fair and equal terms. We are 



firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with 
nations, as with individuals, our interests soundly cal 
culated, will ever be found inseparable from our moral 
duties; and history bears witness to the fact, that a just 
nation is taken on its word, when recourse is had to arma 
ments, and wars to bridle others. 

At home, fellow-citizens, you best know whether we 
have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary 
offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us 
to discontinue our internal taxes. These covering our land 
with officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had 
already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, 
once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching 
successively every article of produce and property. If 
among these taxes some minor ones fell which had not 
been inconvenient, it was because their amount would not 
have paid the officers who collected them, and because, if 
they had any merit, the state authorities might adopt 
them, instead of others less approved. 

The remaining revenue on the consumption of foreign 
articles, is paid cheerfully by those who can afford to add 
foreign luxuries to domestic comforts, being collected on 
our seaboards and frontiers only, and incorporated with 
the transactions of our mercantile citizens, it may be the 
pleasure and pride of an American to ask, What farmer, 
what mechanic, what laborer, ever sees a tax-gatherer of 
the United States? These contributions enable us to sup 
port the current expenses of the Government, to fulfil 
contracts with foreign nations, to extinguish the native 
right of soil within our limits, to extend those limits, and 
to apply such a surplus to our public debts, as places at 
a short day their final redemption, and that redemption 
once effected, the revenue thereby liberated may, by a just 
repartition among the States, and a corresponding amend- 



ing of the Constitution, be applied, in time of peace, to 
rivers, canals, roads, arts, manufactures, education, and 
other great objects within each State. In time of war, if 
injustice, by ourselves or others, must sometimes produce 
war, increased as the same revenue will be increased by 
population and consumption, and aided by other resources 
reserved for that crisis, it may meet within the year all the 
expenses of the year, without encroaching on the rights of 
future generations by burdening them with the debts of 
the past. War will then be but a suspension of useful 
works, and a return to a state of peace a return to the 
progress of improvement. 

I have said, fellow-citizens, that the income reserved 
had enabled us to extend our limits ; but that extension 
may possibly pay for itself before we are called on, and 
in the meantime, may keep down the accruing interest; in 
all events, it will repay the advances we have made. I 
know that the acquisition of Louisiana has been disap 
proved by some, from a candid apprehension that the en 
largement of our territory would endanger its union. But 
who can limit the extent to which the federative principle 
may operate effectively? The larger our association, the 
less will it be shaken by local passions ; and in any view, 
is it not better that the opposite bank of the Mississippi 
should be settled by our own brethren and children, than 
by strangers of another family? With which shall we be 
most likely to live in harmony and friendly intercourse ? 

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free 
exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the 
powers of the General Government. I have therefore un 
dertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the religious exercises 
suited to it, but have left them, as the Constitution found 
them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church 
authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies. 



The aboriginal inhabitants of these countries I have re 
garded with the commiseration their history inspires. En 
dowed with the faculties and the rights of men, breath 
ing an ardent love of liberty and independence, and 
occupying a country which left them no desire but to 
be undisturbed, the stream of overflowing population 
from other regions directed itself on these shores ; with 
out power to divert, or habits to contend against, they have 
been overwhelmed by the current, or driven before it; now 
reduced within limits too narrow for the hunter s state, 
humanity enjoins us to teach them agriculture and the 
domestic arts ; to encourage them to that industry which 
alone can enable them to maintain their place in existence, 
and to prepare them in time for that state of society, which 
to bodily comforts adds the improvement of the mind and 
morals. We have therefore liberally furnished them with 
the implements of husbandry and household use; we have 
placed among them instructors in the arts of first necessity ; 
and they are covered with the aegis of the law against 
aggressors from among ourselves. 

But the endeavors to enlighten them on the fate which 
awaits their present course of life, to induce them to ex 
ercise their reason, follow its dictates, and change their 
pursuits with the change of circumstances, have powerful 
obstacles to encounter ; they are combated by the habits of 
their bodies, prejudice of their minds, ignorance, pride, and 
the influence of interested and crafty individuals among 
them, who feel themselves something in the present order 
of things, and fear to become nothing in any other. These 
persons inculcate a sanctimonious reverence for the cus 
toms of their ancestors; that whatsoever they did, must be 
done through all time ; that reason is a false guide, and to 
advance under its counsel, in their physical, moral, or 
political condition, is perilous innovation; that their duty 



is to remain as their Creator made them, ignorance being 
safety, and knowledge full of danger; in short, my friends, 
among them is seen the action and counteraction of good 
sense and bigotry ; they, too, have their anti-philosophers, 
who find an interest in keeping things in their present 
state, who dread reformation, and exert all their faculties 
to maintain the ascendancy of habit over the duty of im 
proving our reason, and obeying its mandates. 

In giving these outlines, I do not mean, fellow-citizens, 
to arrogate to myself the merit of the measures ; that is 
clue, in the first place, to the reflecting character of our 
citizens at large, who, by the weight of public opinion, 
influence and strengthen the public measures ; it is due to 
the sound discretion with which they select from among 
themselves those to whom they confide the legislative 
duties ; it is due to the zeal and wisdom of the characters 
thus selected, who lay the foundations of public happiness 
in wholesome laws, the execution of which alone remains 
for others; and it is due to the able and faithful auxiliaries, 
whose patriotism has associated with me in the executive 

During this course of administration, and in order to dis 
turb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against 
us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise 
or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to 
freedom arid science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch 
as they tend to lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; 
they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome 
punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the sev 
eral States against falsehood and defamation; but public 
duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, 
and the offenders have therefore been left to find their 
punishment in the public indignation. 

Nor was it uninteresting to the world, that an experiment 



should be fairly and fully made, whether freedom of dis 
cussion, unaided by power, is not sufficient for the propa 
gation and protection of truth whether a government, 
conducting itself in the true spirit of its constitution, with 
zeal and purity, and doing no act which it would be un 
willing the whole world should witness, can be written 
down by falsehood and defamation. The experiment has 
been tried; you have witnessed the scene; our fellow-citi 
zens have looked on, cool and collected; they saw the latent 
source from which these outrages proceeded; they gathered 
around their public functionaries, and when the Constitution 
called them to the decision by suffrage, they pronounced 
their verdict, honorable to those who had served them, and 
consolatory to the friend of man, who believes he may be 
intrusted with his own affairs. 

No inference is here intended, that the laws, provided 
by the state against false and defamatory publications, 
should not be enforced; he who has time renders a service 
to public morals and public tranquillity, in reforming these 
abuses by the salutary coercions of the law; but the ex 
periment is noted to prove that, since truth and reason 
have maintained their ground against false opinions in 
league with false facts, the press, confined to truth, needs 
no other legal restraint; the public judgment will correct 
false reasonings and opinions, on a full hearing of all 
parties ; and no other definite line can be drawn between 
the inestimable liberty of the press and its demoralizing 
licentiousness. If there be still improprieties which this 
rule would not restrain, its supplement must be sought in 
the censorship of public opinion. 

Contemplating the union of sentiment now manifested 
so generally, as auguring harmony and happiness to our 
future course, I offer to our country sincere congratula 
tions. With those, too, not yet rallied to the same point, 



the disposition to do so is gaining strength ; facts are pierc 
ing through the veil drawn over them, and our doubting 
brethren will at length see, that the mass of their fellow- 
citizens,, with whom they cannot yet resolve to act, as to 
principles and measures, think as they think, and desire 
what they desire; that our wish, as well as theirs, is, that 
the public efforts may be directed honestly to the public 
good, that peace be cultivated, civil and religious liberty 
unassailed, law and order preserved, equality of rights 
maintained, and that state of property, equal or unequal, 
which results to every man from his own industry, or that 
of his fathers. When satisfied of these views, it is not in 
human nature that they should not approve and support 
them; in the meantime, let us cherish them with patient 
affection; let us do them justice, and more than justice, in 
all competitions of interest ; and we need not doubt that 
truth, reason, and their own interests, will at length pre 
vail, will gather them into the fold of their country, and 
will complete their entire union of opinion, which gives to 
a nation the blessing of harmony, and the benefit of all its 

I shall now enter on the duties to which my fellow-citi 
zens have again called me, and shall proceed in the spirit 
of those principles which they have approved. I fear not 
that any motives of interest may lead me astray; I am 
sensible of no passion which could seduce me knowingly 
from the path of justice; but the weakness of human nature 
and the limits of my own understanding, will produce errors 
of judgment sometimes injurious to your interests. I shall 
need, therefore, all the indulgence I have heretofore experi 
enced the want of it will certainly not lessen with increas 
ing years. I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in 
whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of 
old, from their native land, and planted them in a country 



flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who 
has covered our infancy with His providence, and our riper 
years with His wisdom and power; and to whose goodness 

*I ask you to join with me in supplications, that He will so 
enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, 

"and prosper their measures, that whatsoever they do, shall 
result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, 
friendship, and approbation of all nations. 

On the Conduct of a Newspaper 

To John Norvell 

WASHINGTON, June 11, 1807. 

To your request of my opinion of the manner in which 
a newspaper should be conducted, so as to be most useful, 
I should answer, "by restraining it to true facts and sound 
principles only." Yet I fear such a paper would find few 
subscribers. It is a melancholy truth, that a suppression 
of the press could not more completely deprive the nation of 
its benefits, than is done by its abandoned prostitution to 
falsehood. Nothing can now be believed which is seen in 
a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being 
put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state 
of misinformation is known only to those who are in situa 
tions to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies 
of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great 
body of my fellow-citizens, who, reading newspapers, live 
and die in the belief, that they have known something of 
what has been passing in the world in their time; whereas 
the accounts they have read in newspapers are just as true 
a history of any other period of the world as of the pres 
ent, except that the real names of the day are affixed to 



their fables. General facts may indeed be collected from 
them, such as that Europe is now at war, that Bonaparte 
has been a successful warrior, that he has subjected a great 
portion of Europe to his will, etc., etc. ; but no details can 
be relied on. I will add, that the man who never looks into 
a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them, 
inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than 
he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. He 
who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the 
details are all false. 

Perhaps an editor might begin a reformation in some 
such way as this. Divide his paper into four chapters, 
heading the 1st, Truths. 2d, Probabilities. 3d, Possi 
bilities. 4th, Lies. The first chapter would be very 
short, as it would contain little more than authentic papers, 
and information from such sources, as the editor would be 
willing to risk his own reputation for their truth. The 
second would contain what, from a mature consideration of 
all circumstances, his judgment should conclude to be prob 
ably true. This, however, should rather contain too little 
than too much. The third and fourth should be profess 
edly for those readers who would rather have lies for their 
money than the blank paper they would occupy. 

Such an editor, too, would have to set his face against 
the demoralizing practice of feeding the public mind 
habitually on slander, and the depravity of taste which this 
nauseous aliment induces. Defamation is becoming a nec 
essary of life; insomuch, that a dish of tea in the morning 
or evening cannot be digested without this stimulant. Even 
those who do not believe these abominations, still read them 
with complaisance to their auditors, and instead of the 
abhorrence and indignation which should fill a virtuous 
mind, betray a secret pleasure in the possibility that some 
may believe them, though they do not themselves. It 



seems to escape them, that it is not he who prints, but he 
who pays for printing a slander, who is its real author. 

To Col. Robert Fulton 

MONTICELLO, August 16, 1807. 

Sir: I consider your torpedoes as very valuable means 
of the defence of harbors, and have no doubt that we should 
adopt them to a considerable degree. Not that I go the 
whole length (as I believe you do) of considering them as 
solely to be relied on. Neither a nation nor those intrusted 
with its affairs, could be justifiable, however sanguine its 
expectations, in trusting solely to an engine not yet suffi 
ciently tried, under all the circumstances which may occur, 
and against which we know not as yet what means of parry 
ing may be devised. If, indeed, the mode of attaching 
them to the cable of a ship be the only one proposed, modes 
of prevention cannot be difficult. But I have ever looked 
to the submarine boat as most to be depended on for at 
taching them, and though I see no mention of it in your 
letter, or your publications, I am in hopes it is not aban 
doned as impracticable. I should wish to see a corps of 
young men trained to this service. It would belong to the 
engineers if at hand, but being nautical, I suppose we must 
have a corps of naval engineers, to practise and use them. 
I do not know whether we have authority to put any part 
of our existing naval establishment in a course of training, 
but it shall be the subject of a consultation with the Sec 
retary of the Navy. General Dearborn has informed you 
of the urgency of our want of you at New Orleans for the 
locks there. I salute you with great respect and esteem. 


Proposed Alliance with Great Britain 

To tJie Secretary of State 
(James Madison) 

MONTICELLO, August 27, 1805. 

I think you have misconceived the nature of the treaty 
I thought we should propose to England. I have no idea 
of committing ourselves immediately or independently of 
our further will to the war. The treaty should be provi 
sional only, to come into force on the event of our being 
engaged in war with either France or Spain during the pres 
ent war in Europe. In that event we should make com 
mon cause, and England should stipulate not to make peace 
without our obtaining the objects for which we go to war, 
to wit, the acknowledgment by Spain of the rightful boun 
daries of Louisiana (which we should reduce to our mini 
mum by a secret article) and indemnification for spolia 
tions, for which purpose we should be allowed to make 
reprisal on the Floridas and retain them as an indemnifica 
tion. Our co-operation in the war (if we should actually 
enter into it) would be sufficient consideration for Great 
Britain to engage for its object; and it being generally 
known to France and Spain that we had entered into treaty 
with England, would probably insure us a peaceable and 
immediate settlement of both points. But another motive 
much more powerful would indubitably induce England to 
go much further. Whatever ill-humor may at times have 
been expressed against us by individuals of that country, 
the first wish of every Englishman s heart is to see us once 
more fighting by their sides against France ; nor could the 
King or his ministers do an act so popular as to enter into 
an alliance with us. The nation would not weigh the con 
sideration by grains and scruples. They would consider it 



as the price and pledge of an indissoluble friendship. I 
think it possible that for such a provisional treaty they 
would give us their general guarantee of Louisiana and the 
Floridas. At any rate we might try them. A failure would 
not make our situation worse. If such a one could be ob 
tained we might await our own convenience for calling up 
the casus fcederis. I think it important that England 
should receive an overture as early as possible, as it might 
prevent her listening to terms of peace. If I recollect 
rightly, we had instructed Moreau, when he went to Paris, 
to settle the deposit; if he failed in that object to propose a 
treaty to England immediately. We could not be more en 
gaged to secure the deposit then than we are the country 
now, after paying fifteen millions for it. I do expect, 
therefore, that, considering the present state of things as 
analogous to that, and virtually within his instructions, he 
will very likely make the proposition to England. 

Introducing his Grandson Estimate of 

To Dr. Benjamin Rush 

WASHINGTON, January 3, 1808. 

Dear Sir: In the ensuing autumn, I shall be sending on 
to Philadelphia a grandson of about fifteen years of age, 
to whom I shall ask your friendly attentions. Without 
that bright fancy which captivates, I am in hopes he pos 
sesses sound judgment and much observation; and, what I 
value more than all tilings, good humor. For thus I esti 
mate the qualities of the mind: 1, good humor; 2, integrity; 
8, industry; 4, science. The preference of the first to the 



second quality may not at first be acquiesced in ; but cer 
tainly we had all rather associate with a good-humored, 
light-principled man, than with an ill-tempered rigorist in 

Urging Him to Run for Congress 

To William Wirt, Esq. 

WASHINGTON, January 10, 1808. 

Dear Sir: I pray you that this letter may be sacredly 
secret, because it meddles in a line wherein I should myself 
think it wrong to intermeddle, were it not that it looks to 
a period when I shall be out of office; but others might 
think it wrong notwithstanding that circumstance. I sus 
pected, from your desire to go into the army, that you dis 
liked your profession, notwithstanding that your prospects 
in it were inferior to none in the State. Still I know that 
no profession is open to stronger antipathies than that of 
the law. The object of this letter, then, is to propose to 
you to come into Congress. That is the great commanding 
theatre of this nation, and the threshold to whatever de 
partment of office a man is qualified to enter. With your 
reputation, talents, and correct views, used with the neces 
sary prudence, you will at once be placed at the head of 
the republican body in the House of Representatives ; and 
after obtaining the standing which a little time will insure 
you, you may look, at your own will, into the military, the 
judiciary, diplomatic, or other civil departments, with a cer 
tainty of being in either whatever you please. And in the 
present state of what may be called the eminent talents of 
our country, you may be assured of being engaged through 
life Ln the most honorable employments. If you come in at 



the next election, you will begin your course with a new 
administration. That administration will be opposed by a 
faction, small in numbers, but governed by no principle but 
the most envenomed malignity. They will endeavor to bat 
ter down the Executive before it will have time, by its pur 
ity and correctness, to build up a confidence with the people, 
founded on experiment. By supporting them you will lay 
for yourself a broad foundation in the public confidence, 
and indeed you will become the Colossus of the republican 
government of your country. I will not say that public life 
is the line for making a fortune. But it furnishes a decent 
and honorable support, and places one s children on good 
grounds for public favor. The family of a beloved father 
will stand with the public on the most favorable ground 
of competition. Had General Washington left children, 
what would have been denied to them? 

Reasons for Refusing to Proclaim a Fast 

To the Rev. Samuel Miller 

WASHINGTON, January 23, 1808. 

Sir: I consider the Government of the United States as 
interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with re 
ligious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. 
This results not only from the provision that no law shall 
be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of 
religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the 
powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no 
power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume 
authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the 
General Government. It must then rest with the States, 
as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only 



proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of 
fasting arid prayer. That is, that I should indirectly as 
sume to the United States an authority over religious exer 
cises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them 
from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is 
to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some pen 
alty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and 
imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps 
in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of 
the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct 
for those to whom it is directed ? I do not believe it is for 
the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct 
its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines ; nor of the re 
ligious societies, that the General Government should be 
invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time 
or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious 
exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every 
religious society has a right to determine for itself the 
times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, 
according to their own particular tenets; and this right can 
never be safer than in their own hands, where the Consti 
tution has deposited it. 

On Public Ownership 

To William B. Bibb 

MONTICELLO, July 28, 1808. 

Sir: I received duly your favor of July 1st, covering 
an offer of Mr. McDonald of an iron mine to the public, 
and I thank you for taking the trouble of making the com 
munication, as it might have its utility. But having always 
observed that public works are much less advantageously 



managed than the same are by private hands, I have thought 
it better for the public to go to market for whatever it 
wants which is to be found there; for there competition 
brings it down to the minimum of value. I have no doubt 
we can buy brass cannon at market cheaper than we could 
make iron ones. I think it material, too, not to abstract the 
high executive officers from those functions which nobody 
else is charged to carry on, and to employ them in super 
intending works which are going on abundantly in private 
hands. Our predecessors went on different principles; 
they bought iron mines, and sought for copper ones. We 
own a mine at Harper s Ferry of the finest iron ever put 
into a cannon, which we are afraid to attempt to work. 
We have rented it heretofore, but it is now without a tenant. 

Advice as to Conduct and Character 

WASHINGTON, November 24, 1808. 

My dear Jefferson : . . . Your situation, thrown at 
such a distance from us, and alone, cannot but give us all 
great anxieties for you. As much has been secured for 
you, by your particular position and the acquaintance to 
which you have been recommended, as could be done 
toward shielding you from the dangers which surround 
you. But thrown on a wide world, among entire stran 
gers, without a friend or guardian to advise, so young, too, 
and with so little experience of mankind, your dangers are 
great, and still your safety must rest on yourself. A de 
termination never to do what is wrong, prudence, and good- 
humor, will go far toward securing to you the estimation 
of the world. When I recollect that at fourteen years of 



age, the whole care and direction of myself was thrown on 
myself entirely, without a relation or friend qualified to ad 
vise or guide me, and recollect the various sorts of bad 
company with which I associated from time to time, I am 
astonished I did not turn off with some of them, and become 
as worthless to society as they were. I had the good fort 
une to become acquainted very early with some characters 
of very high standing, and to feel the incessant wish that I 
could ever become what they were. Under temptations and 
difficulties, I would ask myself what would Dr. Small, Mr. 
Wythe, Peyton Randolph do in this situation ? What 
course in it will insure me their approbation? I am cer 
tain that this mode of deciding on my conduct, tended more 
to correctness than any reasoning powers I possessed. 
Knowing the even and dignified line they pursued, I could 
never doubt for a moment which of two courses would be 
in character for them. Whereas, seeking the same object 
through a process of moral reasoning, and with the jaun 
diced eye of youth, I should often have erred. From the 
circumstances of my position, I was often thrown into the 
society of horse-racers, card-players, fox-hunters, scientific 
and professional men, and of dignified men; and many a 
time have I asked myself, in the enthusiastic moment of the 
death of a fox, the victory of a favorite horse, the issue of 
a question eloquently argued at the bar, or in the great 
council of the nation, well, which of these kinds of reputa 
tion should I prefer? That of a horse-jockey, a fox- 
hunter, an orator, or the honest advocate of my country s 
rights ? Be assured, my dear Jefferson, that these little 
returns into ourselves, this self-catechising habit, is not 
trifling nor useless, but leads to the prudent selection and 
steady pursuit of what is right. 

I have mentioned good-humor as one of the preservatives 
of our peace and tranquillity. It is among the most effect- 



ual, and its effect is so well imitated and aided, artificially, 
by politeness, that this also becomes an acquisition of first- 
rate value. In truth, politeness is artificial good humor, it 
covers the natural want of it, and ends by rendering 
habitual a substitute nearly equivalent to the real virtue. 
It is the practice of sacrificing to those whom we meet in 
society, all the little conveniences and preferences which 
will gratify them, and deprive us of nothing worth a mo 
ment s consideration ; it is the giving a pleasing and flatter 
ing turn to our expressions, which will conciliate others, and 
make them pleased with us as well as themselves. How 
cheap a price for the good will of another ! When this is 
in return for a rude thing said by another, it brings him to 
his senses, it mortifies and corrects him in the most salutary 
way, and places him at the feet of your good nature in the 
eyes of the company. But in stating prudential rules for 
our government in society, I must not omit the important 
one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. 
I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convinc 
ing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their 
getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another. 
Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, 
either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispas 
sionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommit 
ted in argument ourselves. It was one of the rules which, 
above all others, made Dr. Franklin the most amiable 
of men in society, "never to contradict anybody." If he 
was urged to announce an opinion, lie did it rather by ask 
ing questions, as if for information, or by suggesting 
doubts. When I hear another express an opinion which is 
not mine, I say to myself, He has a right to his opinion, as 
I to mine; why should I question it? His error does me 
no injury, and shall I become a Don Quixote, to bring all 
men by force of argument to one opinion? If a fact be 



misstated, it is probable he is gratified by a belief of it, and 
I have no right to deprive him of the gratification. If he 
wants information, he will ask it, and then I will give it 
in measured terms ; but if he still believes his own story, 
and shows a desire to dispute the fact with me, I hear him 
and say nothing. It is his affair, not mine, if he prefers 
error. There are two classes of disputants most frequently 
to be met with among us. The first is of young students, 
just entered the threshold of science, with a first view of 
its outlines, not yet filled up with the details and modifica 
tions which a further progress would bring to their knowl 
edge. The other consists of the ill-tempered and rude men 
in society, who have taken up a passion for politics. (Good- 
humor and politeness never introduce into mixed society, 
a question on which they foresee there will be a difference 
here of opinion.) From both of these classes of dispu 
tants, my dear Jefferson, keep aloof, as you would from 
the infected subjects of yellow fever or pestilence. Con 
sider yourself, when with them, as among the patients of 
Bedlam, needing medical more than moral counsel. Be a 
listener only, keep within j-ourself, and endeavor to estab 
lish with yourself the habit of silence, especially on politics. 
In the fevered state of our country, no good can ever result 
from any attempt to set one of these fiery zealots to 
rights, either in fact or principle. They are determined 
as to the facts they will believe, and the opinions on which 
they will act. Get by them, therefore, as you would by 
an angry bull; it is not for a man of sense to dispute the 
road with such an animal. You will be more exposed 
than others to have these animals shaking their horns at 
you, because of the relation in which you stand with me. 
Full of political venom, and willing to see me and to hate 
me as a chief in the antagonist party, your presence will 
be to them what the vomit grass is to the sick dog, a 



nostrum for producing ejaculation. Look upon them ex 
actly with that eye, and pity them as objects to whom 
you can administer only occasional ease. My character is 
not within their power. It is in the hands of my fellow- 
citizens at large, and will be consigned to honor or infamy 
by the verdict of the republican mass of oui country, ac 
cording to what themselves will have seen, not what their 
enemies and mine shall have said. Never, therefore, con 
sider these puppies in politics as requiring any notice 
from you, and always show that you are not afraid to 
leave my character to the umpirage of public opinion. 
Look steadily to the pursuits which have carried you to 
Philadelphia, be very select in the society you attach 
yourself to, avoid taverns, drinkers, smokers, idlers, and 
dissipated persons generally; for it is with such that 
broils and contentions arise, and you will find your path 
more easy and tranquil. The limits of my paper warn me 
that it is time for me to close with my affectionate adieu. 

Valedictory to Congress December, 1808 

Last Annual Message 

Availing myself of this the last occasion which will 
occur of addressing the two houses of the Legislature at 
their meeting, I cannot omit the expression of my sincere 
gratitude for the repeated proofs of confidence manifested 
to me by themselves and their predecessors since my call 
to the administration, and the many indulgences experi 
enced at their hands. The same grateful acknowledgments 
are due to my fellow-citizens generally, whose support 
has been my great encouragement under all embarrass 
ments. In the transaction of their business I cannot have 



escaped error. It is incident to our imperfect nature. But 
I may say with truth, my errors have been of the under 
standing, not of intention ; and that the advancement of 
their rights and interests has been the constant motive for 
every measure. On these considerations I solicit their in 
dulgence. Looking forward with anxiety to their future 
destinies, I trust that in their steady character unshaken 
by difficulties, in their love of liberty, obedience to law, 
and support of the public authorities, I see a sure guar 
antee of the permanence of our Republic; and retiring 
from the charge of their affairs, I carry with me the con 
solation of a firm persuasion that Heaven has in store for 
our beloved country long ages to come of prosperity and 

vice to Indian Chiefs 

To Captain Hendrich, the Delarvares, Mohicans, and 

WASHINGTON, December 21, 1808. 

My Son and my Children: I am glad to see you here, to 
receive your salutations, and to return them by taking you 
by the hand, and renewing to you the assurances of my 
friendship. I learn with pleasure that the Miamis and 
Powtawatamies have given you some of their lands on the 
White River to live on, and that you propose to gather there 
your scattered tribes, and to dwell on it all your days. 

The picture which you have drawn, my son, of the in 
crease of our numbers and the decrease of yours is just, 
the causes are very plain, and the remedy depends on 
yourselves alone. You have lived by hunting the deer and 
buffalo all these have been driven westward; you have 



sold out on the sea-board and moved westwardly in pur 
suit of them. As they became scarce there, your food has 
failed you; you have been a part of every year without 
food, except the roots and other unwholesome things you 
could find in the forest. Scanty and unwholesome food 
produce diseases and death among your children, and 
hence you have raised few and your numbers have de 
creased. Frequent wars, too, and the abuse of spirituous 
liquors, have assisted in lessening your numbers. The 
whites, on the other hand, are in the habit of cultivating 
the earth, of raising stocks of cattle, hogs, and other 
domestic animals, in much greater numbers than they could 
kill of deer and buffalo. Having always a plenty of food 
and clothing they raise abundance of children, they double 
their numbers every twenty years, the new swarms are 
continually advancing upon the country like flocks of 
pigeons, and so they will continue to do. Now, my chil 
dren, if we wanted to. diminish our numbers, we would give 
up the culture of the earth, pursue the deer and buifalo, 
and be always at war; this would soon reduce us to be as 
few as you are, and if you wish to increase your numbers 
you must give up the deer and buffalo, live in peace, and 
cultivate the earth. You see then, my children, that it 
depends on yourselves alone to become a numerous and 
great people. Let me entreat you, therefore, on the lands 
now given you to begin to give every man a farm ; let him 
enclose it, cultivate it, build a warm house on it, and when 
he dies, let it belong to his wife and children after him. 
Nothing is so easy as to learn to cultivate the earth; all 
your women understand it, and to make it easier, we are 
always ready to teach you how to make ploughs, hoes, and 
necessary utensils. If the men will take the labor of the 
earth from the women they will learn to spin and weave 
and to clothe their families. In this way you will also 



raise many children, you will double your numbers every 
twenty years, and soon fill the land your friends have given 
you, and your children will never be tempted to sell the 
spot on which they have been born, raised, have labored 
and called their own. When once you have property, you 
will want laws and magistrates to protect your property 
and persons, and to punish those among you who commit 
crimes. You will find that our laws are good for this 
purpose; you will wish to live under them, you will unite 
yourselves with us, join in our Great Councils and form 
one people with us, and we shall all be Americans ; you 
will mix with us by marriage, your blood will run in our 
veins, and will spread with us over this great island. In 
stead, then, my children, of the gloomy prospect you have 
drawn of your total disappearance from the face of the 
earth, which is true, if you continue to hunt the deer and 
buffalo and go to war, you see what a brilliant aspect is 
offered to our future history, if you give up war and hunt 
ing. Adopt the culture of the earth and raise domestic 
animals ; you see how from a small family you may become 
a great nation by adopting the course which from the small 
beginning you describe has made us a great nation. 

My children, I will give you a paper declaring your right 
to hold, against all persons, the lands given you by the 
Miamis and Powtawatamies, and that you never can sell 
them without their consent. But I must tell you that if 
ever they and you agree to sell, no paper which I can give 
you can prevent your doing what you please with your 
own. The only way to prevent this is to give to every one 
of your people a farm, which shall belong to him and his 
family, and which the nation shall have no right to take 
from them and sell ; in this way alone can you insure the 
lands to your descendants through all generations, and that 
it shall never be sold from under their feet. It is not the 



keeping your lands which will keep your people alive on 
them after the deer and buffalo shall have left them; it 
is the cultivating them alone which can do that. The hun 
dredth part in corn and cattle will support you better than 
the whole in deer and buffalo. 

My son Hendrick, deliver these words to your people. 
I have spoken to them plainly, that they may see what is 
before them, and that it is in their own power to go on 
dwindling to nothing, or to become again a great people. 
It is for this reason I wish them to live in peace with all 
people, to teach their young men to love agriculture, 
rather than war and hunting. Let these words sink deep 
in their hearts, and let them often repeat them and consider 
them. Tell them that I hold them fast by the hand, and 
that I will ever be their friend to advise and to assist them 
in following the true path to their future happiness. 

To Thomas Leiper 

WASHINGTON, January 21, 1809- 

I have lately inculcated the encouragement of manufact 
ures to the extent of our own consumption, at least, in all 
articles of which we raise the raw material. On this the 
federal papers and meetings have sounded the alarm of 
Chinese policy, destruction of commerce, etc. ; that is to 
say, the iron which we make must not be wrought here 
into ploughs, axes, hoes, etc., in order that the ship 
owner may have the profit of carrying it to Europe, and 
bringing it back in a manufactured form, as if after manu 
facturing our own raw materials for our own use, there 
would not be a surplus produce sufficient to employ a due 



proportion of navigation in carrying it to market and ex 
changing it for those articles of which we have not the 
raw material. Yet this absurd hue and cry has contributed 
much to federalize New England; their doctrine goes to 
the sacrificing agriculture and manufactures to commerce; 
to the calling all our people from the interior country to 
the sea-shore to turn merchants, and to convert this great 
agricultural country into a city of Amsterdam. But I trust 
the good sense of our country will see that its greatest 
prosperity depends on a due balance between agriculture, 
manufactures, and commerce, and not in this protuberant 
navigation which has kept us in hot water from the com 
mencement of our Government, and is now engaging us 
in war. That this may be avoided, if it can be done with 
out a surrender of rights, is my sincere prayer. Accept 
the assurances of my constant esteem and respect. 

On the Annexation of Cuba 

To the President of the United States 
(James Madison^) 

MONTICELLO, April 27, 1809. 

As to Bonaparte, I should not doubt the revocation of his 
edicts were he governed by reason. But his policy is so 
crooked that it eludes conjecture. . . . He ought the 
more to conciliate our good will, as we can be such an ob 
stacle to the new career opening on him in the Spanish 
colonies. That he would give us the Floridas to withhold 
intercourse with the residue of those colonies, cannot be 
doubted. But that is no price; because they are ours in 
the first moment of the first war; and until a war they are 
of no particular necessity to us. But, although with diffi 
culty, he will consent to our receiving Cuba into our Union, 



to prevent our aid to Mexico and the other provinces. That 
would be a price, and I would immediately erect a column 
on the southernmost limit of Cuba, and inscribe on it a ne 
plus ultra as to us in that direction. We should then have 
only to include the North in our Confederacy, which would 
be of course in the first war, and we should have such an 
empire for Liberty as she has never surveyed since the 
creation; and I am persuaded no constitution was ever be 
fore so well calculated as ours for extensive empire and 
self-government. As the Mentor went away before this 
change, and will leave France probably while it is still a 
secret in that hemisphere, I presume the expediency of pur 
suing her by a swift sailing despatch was considered. It 
will be objected to our receiving Cuba, that no limit can 
then be drawn to our future acquisitions. Cuba can be de 
fended by us without a navy, and this develops the prin 
ciple which ought to limit our views. Nothing should ever 
be accepted which would require a navy to defend it. 

On the Choice of a Profession 

To Judge David Campbell 

MONTICELLO, January 28, 1810. 

Law is quite overdone. It is fallen to the ground, and a 
man must have great powers to raise himself in it to either 
honor or profit. The mob of the profession get as little 
money and less respect than they would by digging the 
earth. The followers of Esculapius are also numerous. 
Yet I have remarked that wherever one sets himself down in 
a good neighborhood, not pre-occupied, he secures to himself 
its practice, and if prudent, is not long in acquiring whereon 
to retire and live in comfort. The physician is happy in the 



attachment of the families in which he practises. All think 
he has saved some one of them, and he finds himself every 
where a welcome guest, a home in every house. If, to the 
consciousness of having saved some lives, he can add that of 
having at no time, from want of caution, destroyed the boon 
he was called on to save, he will enjoy, in age, the happy 
reflection of not having lived in vain; while the lawyer has 
only to recollect how many, by his dexterity, have been 
cheated of their right and reduced to beggary. 

On his Marnier of Life 

To General Thaddeus Kosciusko 

MONTICELLO, February 26, 1810. 

So much as to my country. Now a word as to myself. 
I am retired to Monticello, where, in the bosom of my fam 
ily, and surrounded by my books, I enjoy a repose to which 
I have been long a stranger. My mornings are devoted to 
correspondence. From breakfast to dinner, I am in my 
shops, my garden, or on horseback among my farms ; from 
dinner to dark, I give to society and recreation with my 
neighbors and friends ; and from candle-light to early bed 
time, I read. My health is perfect; and my strength con 
siderably reenforced by the activity of the course I pursue; 
perhaps it is as great as usually falls to the lot of near 
sixty-seven years of age. I talk of ploughs and harrows, 
of seeding and harvesting, with my neighbors, and of poli 
tics, too, if they choose, with as little reserve as the rest of 
my fellow-citizens, and feel, at length, the blessing of being 
free to say and do what I please, without being responsible 
for it to any mortal. A part of my occupation, and by no 
means the least pleasing, is the direction of the studies of 



such young men as ask it. They place themselves in the 
neighboring village, and have the use of my library and 
counsel, and make a part of my society. In advising the 
course of their reading, I endeavor to keep their attention 
fixed on the main objects of all science, the freedom and 
happiness of man. So that coming to bear a share in the 
councils and governments of their country, they will keep 
ever in view the sole objects of all legitimate government. 

On the Breeding of Kings 

To Governor John Langdon 

MONTICELLO, March 5, 1810. 

When I observed, that the King of England was a cipher, 
I did not mean to confine the observation to the mere indi 
vidual now on that throne. The practice of Kings marry 
ing only in the families of Kings has been that of Europe 
for some centuries. Now, take any race of animals, confine 
them in idleness and inaction, whether in a sty, a stable, 
or a state-room, pamper them with high diet, gratify all 
their sexual appetites, immerse them in sensualities, nourish 
their passions, let everything bend before them, and banish 
whatever might lead them to think, and in a few generations 
they become all body and no mind ; and this, too, by a law of 
nature, by that very law by which we are in the constant 
practice of changing the characters and propensities of 
the animals we raise for our own purposes. Such is the reg 
imen in raising Kings, and in this way they have gone on 
for centuries. While in Europe, I often amused myself 
with contemplating the characters of the then reigning sov 
ereigns of Europe. Louis the XVI. was a fool, of my own 
knowledge, and in despite of the answers made for him at 



his trial. The King of Spain was a fool, and of Naples the 
same. They passed their lives in hunting, and despatched 
two couriers a week, one thousand miles, to let each 
other know what game they had killed the preceding days. 
The King of Sardinia was a fool. All these were Bourbons. 
The Queen of Portugal, a Braganza, was an idiot by nature. 
And so was the King of Denmark. Their sons, as regents, 
exercised the powers of government. The King of Prussia, 
successor to the great Frederick, was a mere hog in body as 
well as in mind. Gustavus of Sweden, and Joseph of 
Austria, were really crazy, and George of England, you 
know, was in a strait-waistcoat. There remained, then, 
none but old Catharine, who had been too lately picked up 
to have lost her common sense. In this state Bonaparte 
found Europe ; and it was this state of its rulers which lost 
it with scarce a struggle. These animals had become with 
out mind and powerless ; and so will every hereditary mon 
arch be after a few generations. Alexander, the grandson 
of Catharine, is as yet an exception. He is able to hold his 
own. But he is only of the third generation. His race is 
not yet worn out. And so endeth the book of Kings, from 
all of whom the Lord deliver us, and have you, my friend, 
and all such good men and true, in His holy keeping. 

Account of Break idth Adams 

To Doctor Benjamin Rush 

MONTICELLO, January 16, 1811. 

Dear Sir: I receive with sensibility your observations on 
the discontinuance of friendly correspondence between Mr. 
Adams and myself, and the concern you take in its restora 
tion. This discontinuance has not proceeded from me, nor 



from the want of sincere desire and of effort on my part, to 
renew our intercourse. You know the perfect coincidence of 
principle and of action, in the early part of the Revolution, 
which produced a high degree of mutual respect and esteem 
between Mr. Adams and myself. Certainly no man was 
ever truer than he was, in that day, to those principles of 
rational republicanism which, after the necessity of throw 
ing off our monarchy, dictated all our efforts in the estab 
lishment of a new government. And although he swerved, 
afterward, toward the principles of the English constitution, 
our friendship did not abate on that account. While he was 
Vice-President, and I Secretary of State, I received a letter 
from President Washington, then at Mount Vernon, desir 
ing me to call together the heads of departments, and to in 
vite Mr. Adams to join us (which, by the bye, was the only 
instance of that being done) in order to determine on some 
measure which required despatch ; and he desired me to 
act on it, as decided, without again recurring to him. I in 
vited them to dine with me, and after dinner, sitting at our 
wine, having settled our question, other conversation came 
on, in which a collision of opinion arose between Mr. Adams 
and Colonel Hamilton, on the merits of the British constitu 
tion, Mr. Adams giving it as his opinion, that, if some of its 
defects and abuses were corrected, it would be the most per 
fect constitution of government ever devised by man. Ham 
ilton, on the contrary, asserted that, with its existing vices, 
it was the most perfect model of government that could be 
formed ; and that the correction of its vices would render it 
an impracticable government. And this you may be as 
sured was the real line of difference between the political 
principles of these two gentlemen. Another incident took 
place on the same occasion, which will further delineate Mr. 
Hamilton s political principles. The room being hung 
around with a collection of the portraits of remarkable men, 



among them those of Bacon, Newton, and Locke, Ham 
ilton asked me who they were. I told him they were my 
trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever pro 
duced, naming them. He paused for some time: "The 
greatest man," said he, "that ever lived, was Julius Cassar." 
Mr. Adams was honest as a politician, as well as a man ; 
Hamilton honest as a man, but, as a politician, believing in 
the necessity of either force or corruption to govern men. 

You remember the machinery which the federalists played 
off, about that time, to beat down the friends to the real 
principles of our Constitution, to silence by terror every 
expression in their favor, to bring us into war with France 
and alliance with England, and finally to homologize our 
Constitution with that of England. Mr. Adams, you know, 
was overwhelmed with feverish addresses, dictated by the 
fear, and often by the pen, of the bloody buoy, and was se 
duced by them into some open indications of his new prin 
ciples of government, and, in fact, was so elated as to mix 
with his kindness a little superciliousness toward me. Even 
Mrs. Adams, with all her good sense and prudence, was sen 
sibly flushed. And you recollect the short suspension of our 
intercourse, and the circumstance which gave rise to it, 
which you were so good as to bring to an early explanation, 
and have set to rights, to the cordial satisfaction of us all. 
The nation at length passed condemnation on the political 
principles of the federalists, by refusing to continue Mr. 
Adams in the Presidency. On the day on which we learned 
in Philadelphia the vote of the city of New York, which it 
was well known would decide the vote of the State, and 
that, again, the vote of the Union, I called on Mr. Adams 
on some official business. He was very sensibly affected, 
and accosted me with these words: "Well, I understand 
that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say 
that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have." 



"Mr. Adams/ said I, "this is no personal contest between 
you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of 
government divide our fellow-citizens into two parties. 
With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we 
have been longer on the public stage than most of those now 
living, our names happen to be more generally known. One 
of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, 
the other mine. Were we both to die to-day, to-morrow two 
other names would be in the place of ours, without any 
change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from 
its principle, not from you or myself." "I believe you are 
right," said he, "that we are but passive instruments, and 
should not suffer this matter to affect our personal disposi 
tions." But he did not long retain this just view of the sub 
ject. I have always believed that the thousand calumnies 
which the federalists, in bitterness of heart, and mortiiica- 
tion at their ejection, daily invented against me, were carried 
to him by their busy intriguers, and made some impression. 
When the election between Burr and myself was kept in 
suspense by the federalists, and they were meditating to 
place the President of the Senate at the head of the Govern 
ment, I called on Mr. Adams with a view to have this des 
perate measure prevented by his negative. He grew warm 
in an instant, and said with a vehemence he had not used 
toward me before, "Sir, the event of the election is within 
your own power. You have only to say you will do jus 
tice to the public creditors, maintain the navy, and not dis 
turb those holding offices and the Government will instantly 
be put into your hands. We know it is the wish of the peo 
ple it should be so." "Mr. Adams," said I, "I know not 
what part of my conduct, in either public or private life, can 
have authorized a doubt of my fidelity to the public engage 
ments. I say, however, I will not come into the Government 
by capitulation. I will not enter on it, but in perfect free- 



dom to follow the dictates of my own judgment." I had 
before given the same answer to the same intimation from 
Gouverneur Morris. "Then/ said he, "things must take 
their course." I turned the conversation to something else, 
and soon took my leave. It was the first time in our lives 
we had ever parted with anything like dissatisfaction. And 
then followed those scenes of midnight appointment, which 
have been condemned by all men. The last day of his po 
litical power, the last hours, and even beyond the midnight, 
were employed in filling all offices, and especially permanent 
ones, with the bitterest federalists, and providing for me the 
alternative, either to execute the Government by my enemies, 
whose study it would be to thwart and defeat all my meas 
ures, or to incur the odium of such numerous removals from 
office, as might bear me down. A little time and reflection 
effaced in my mind this temporary dissatisfaction with Mr. 
Adams, and restored me to that just estimate of his virtues 
and passions, which a long acquaintance had enabled me to 
fix. And my first wish became that of making his retire 
ment easy by any means in my power, for it was understood 
he was not rich. I suggested to some republican members 
of the delegation from his State, the giving him, either 
directly or indirectly, an office, the most lucrative in that 
State, and then offered to be resigned, if they thought he 
would not deem it affrontive. They were of opinion he 
would take great offence at the offer; and moreover, that the 
body of Republicans would consider such a step in the out 
set as auguring very ill of the course I meant to pursue. I 
dropped the idea, therefore, but did not cease to wish for 
some opportunity of renewing our friendly understanding. 
Two or three years after, having had the misfortune to 
lose a daughter, between whom and Mrs. Adams there had 
been a considerable attachment, she made it the occasion of 
writing me a letter, in which, with the tenderest expressions 



of concern at this event, she carefully avoided a single one 
of friendship toward myself, and even concluded it with 
the wishes "of her who once took pleasure in subscribing 
herself your friend, Abigail Adams." Unpromising as was 
the complexion of this letter, I determined to make an effort 
toward removing the cloud from between us. This brought 
on a correspondence which I now enclose for your perusal, 
after which be so good as to return it to me, as I have 
never communicated it to any mortal breathing, before. I 
send it to you, to convince you I have not been wanting 
either in the desire, or the endeavor to remove this misunder 
standing. Indeed, I thought it highly disgraceful to us 
both, as indicating minds not sufficiently elevated to prevent 
a public competition from affecting our personal friendship. 
I soon found from the correspondence that conciliation was 
desperate, and yielding to an intimation in her last letter, I 
ceased from further explanation. I have the same good 
opinion of Mr. Adams which I ever had. I know him to 
be an honest man, an able one with his pen, and he was 
a powerful advocate on the floor of Congress. He has been 
alienated from me, by belief in the lying suggestions, 
contrived for electioneering purposes, that I perhaps mixed 
in the activity and intrigues of the occasion. My most 
intimate friends can testify that I was perfectly passive. 
They would sometimes, indeed, tell me what was going 
on ; but no man ever heard me take part in such conversa 
tions ; and none ever misrepresented Mr. Adams in my pres 
ence, without my asserting his just character. With very 
confidential persons I have doubtless disapproved of the 
principles and practices of his administration. This was 
unavoidable. But never with those with whom it could do 
him any injury. Decency would have required this conduct 
from me, if disposition had not; and I am satisfied Mr. 
Adams s conduct was equally honorable toward me. But 



I think it part of his character to suspect foul play in 
those of whom he is jealous, and not easily to relinquish 
his suspicions. 

I have gone., my dear friend, into these details, that you 
might know everything which had passed between us, might 
be fully possessed of the state of facts and dispositions, 
and judge for yourself whether they admit a revival of that 
friendly intercourse for which you are so kindly solicitous. 
I shall certainly not be wanting in anything on my part 
which may second your efforts, which will be the easier with 
me, inasmuch as I do not entertain a sentiment of Mr. 
Adams, the expression of which could give him reasonable 
offence. And I submit the whole to yourself, with the 
assurance that whatever be the issue, my friendship and 
respect for yourself will remain unaltered and unalterable. 


To Dr. Benjamin Rush 

POPLAR FOREST, August 17, 1811. 

Dear Sir: I write to you from a place ninety miles from 
Monticello, near the New London of this State, which I 
visit three or four times a year, and stay from a fortnight 
to a month at a time. I have fixed myself comfortably, 
keep some books here, bring others occasionally, am in the 
solitude of a hermit, and quite at leisure to attend to my 
absent friends. I note this to show that I am not in a 
situation to examine the dates of our letters, whether I 
have overgone the annual period of asking how you do? 
I know that within that time I have received one or more 
letters from you, accompanied by a volume of your intro 
ductory lectures, for which accept my thanks. I have read 



them with pleasure and edification, for I acknowledge 
facts in medicine as far as they go, distrusting only their 
extension by theory. Having to conduct my grandson 
through his course of mathematics, I have resumed that 
study with great avidity. It was ever my favorite one. We 
have no theories there, no uncertainties remain on the mind ; 
all is demonstration and satisfaction. I have forgotten 
much, and recover it with more difficulty than when in the 
vigor of my mind I originally acquired it. It is wonderful 
to me that old men should not be sensible that their minds 
keep pace with their bodies in the progress of decay. Our 
old Revolutionary friend Clinton, for example, who was a 
hero, but never a man of mind, is wonderfully jealous on 
this head. He tells eternally the stories of his younger days 
to prove his memory, as if memory and reason were the 
same faculty. Nothing betrays imbecility so much as the 
being insensible of it. Had not a conviction of the danger 
to which an unlimited occupation of the executive chair 
would expose the republican Constitution of our Govern 
ment, made it conscientiously a duty to retire when I did, 
the fear of becoming a dotard and of being insensible of it, 
would of itself have resisted all solicitations to remain. I 
have had a long attack of rheumatism, without fever and 
without pain while I keep myself still. A total prostra 
tion of the muscles of the back, hips, and thighs, deprived 
me of the power of walking, and leaves it still in a very 
impaired state. A pain when I walk, seems to have fixed 
itself in the hip, and to threaten permanence. I take mod 
erate rides, without much fatigue; but my journey to this 
place, in a hard-going gig, gave me great sufferings which 
I expect will be renewed on my return as soon as I am 
able. The loss of the power of taking exercise would be 
a sore affliction to me. It has been the delight of my re 
tirement to be in constant bodily activity looking after my 



affairs. It was never damped, as the pleasures of reading 
are, by the question of cui bono? for what object? I hope 
your health of body continues firm. Your works show that 
of your mind. The habits of exercise which your calling 
has given to both, will tend long to preserve them. The 
sedentary character of my public occupations sapped a con 
stitution naturally sound and vigorous, and draws it to an 
earlier close. But it will still last quite as long as I wish 
it. There is a fulness of time when men should go, and 
not occupy too long the ground to which others have a 
right to advance. We must continue while here to ex 
change occasionally our mutual good wishes. I find friend 
ship to be like wine, raw when new, ripened with age, the 
true old man s milk and restorative cordial. God bless you 
and preserve you through a long and healthy old age. 

Federalists and Republicans 

To John Melish 

MONTICELLO, January 13, 1812. 

The candor with which you have viewed the manners 
and condition of our citizens, is so unlike the narrow preju 
dices of the French and English travellers preceding you, 
who, considering each the manners and habits of their own 
people as the only orthodox, have viewed everything differ 
ing from that test as boorish and barbarous, that your work 
will be read here extensively, and operate great good. 

Amid this mass of approbation which is given to every 
other part of the work, there is a single sentiment which 
I cannot help wishing to bring to what I think the correct 
one; and, on a point so interesting, I value your opinion 
too highly not to ambition its concurrence with my own. 



Stating in volume one, page sixty-three, the principle of 
difference between the two great political parties here, you 
conclude it to be, "whether the controlling power shall be 
vested in this or that set of men." That each party en 
deavors to get into the administration of the Government, 
and exclude the other from power, is true, and may be 
stated as a motive of action ; but this is only secondary, the 
primary motive being a real and radical difference of 
political principle. I sincerely wish our differences were 
but personally who should govern, and that the principles 
of our Constitution were those of both parties. Unfortu 
nately, it is otherwise ; and the question of preference 
between monarchy and republicanism, which has so long 
divided mankind elsewhere, threatens a permanent division 

Among that section of our citizens called federalists, 
there are three shades of opinion. Distinguishing between 
the leaders and people who compose it, the leaders consider 
the English constitution as a model of perfection, some, 
with a correction of its vices, others, with all its corruptions 
and abuses. This last was Alexander Hamilton s opinion, 
which others, as well as myself, have often heard him de 
clare, and that a correction of what are called its vices, 
would render the English an impracticable Government. 
This Government they wished to have established here, and 
only accepted and held fast, at first, to the present Con 
stitution, as a stepping-stone to the final establishment of 
their favorite model. This party has therefore always 
clung to England as their prototype and great auxiliary 
in promoting and effecting this change. A weighty MI 
NORITY, however, of these leaders, considering the vol 
untary conversion of our Government into a monarchy as 
too distant, if not desperate, wish to break off from our 
Union its Eastern fragment, as being, in truth, the hot-bed 



of American monnrchism, with a view to a commencement 
of their favorite Government, from whence the other States 
may gangrene by degrees, and the whole be thus brought 
finally to the desired point. For Massachusetts, the prime 
mover in this enterprise, is the last State in the Union 
to mean a final separation, as being of all the most de 
pendent on the others. Not raising bread for the suste 
nance of her own inhabitants, not having a stick of timber 
for the construction of vessels, her principal occupation, nor 
an article to export in them, where would she be, excluded 
from the ports of the other States, and thrown into de 
pendence on England, her direct, and natural, but now in 
sidious rival? At the head of this MINORITY is what is 
called the Essex Junto of Massachusetts. But the MAJOR 
ITY of these leaders do not aim at separation. In this, they 
adhere to the known principle of General Hamilton, never, 
under any views, to break the Union. Anglomany, mon 
archy, and separation, then, are the principles of the Essex 
federalists ; Anglomany and monarchy, those of the Hamil- 
tonians, and Anglomany alone, that of the portion among 
the people who call themselves federalists. These last are 
as good Republicans as the brethren whom they oppose, 
and differ from them only in their devotion to England and 
hatred of France, which they have imbibed from their 
leaders. The moment that these leaders should avowedly 
propose a separation of the Union, or the establishment 
of regal government, their popular adherents would quit 
them to a man, and join the republican standard; and the 
partisans of this change, even in Massachusetts, would thus 
find themselves an army of officers without a soldier. 

The party called Republican is steadily for the support 
of the present Constitution. They obtained at its com 
mencement all the amendments to it they desired. These 
reconciled them to it perfectly, and if they have any ulterior 



view, it is only, perhaps, to popularize it further by short 
ening the senatorial term and devising a process for the 
responsibility of judges, more practicable than that of 
impeachment. They esteem the people of England and. 
France equally, and equally detest the governing powers of 

This I verily believe, after an intimacy of forty years 
with the public councils and characters, is a true statement 
of the grounds on which they are at present divided, and 
that it is not merely an ambition for power. An honest 
man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over 
his fellow-citizens. And considering as the only offices of 
power those conferred by the people directly, that is to 
say, the executive and legislative functions of the General 
and State Governments, the common refusal of these, and 
multiplied resignations, are proofs sufficient that power is 
not alluring to pure minds, and is not, with them, the pri 
mary principle of contest. This is my belief of it; it is 
that on which I have acted; and had it been a mere con 
test who should be permitted to administer the Government 
according to its genuine republican principles, there has 
never been a moment of my life in which I should have 
relinquished for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, 
my friends, and books. 

You expected to discover the difference of our party prin 
ciples in General Washington s valedictory, and my in 
augural address. Not at all. General Washington did not 
harbor one principle of federalism. He was neither an 
Angloman, a monarchist, nor a separatist. He sincerely 
wished the people to have as much self-government as they 
were competent to exercise themselves. The only point on 
which he and I ever differed in opinion, was, that I had 
more confidence than he had in the natural integrity and 
discretion of the people, and in the safety and extent to 



which they might trust themselves with a control over their 
Government. He has asseverated to me a thousand times 
his determination that the existing Government should have 
a fair trial, and that in support of it he would spend 
the last drop of his blood. He did this the more repeatedly, 
because he knew General Hamilton s political bias, and my 
apprehensions from it. It is a mere calumny, therefore, 
in the monarchists, to associate General Washington with 
their principles. But that may have happened in this case 
which has been often seen in ordinary cases, that, by oft 
repeating an untruth, men come to believe it themselves. 
It is a mere artifice in this party to bolster themselves up 
on the revered name of that first of our worthies. If I 
have dwelt longer on this subject than was necessary, it 
proves the estimation in which I hold your ultimate opin 
ions, and my desire of placing the subject tridy before 
them. In so doing, I am certain I risk no use of the com 
munication which may draw me into contention before 
the public. Tranquillity is the summum bonum of a 

On Reconciliation 

MONTICELLO, January 21, 1812. 

A letter from you calls up recollections very dear 
to my mind. It carries me back to the times when, be 
set with difficulties and dangers, we were fellow-laborers 
in the same cause, struggling for what is most valuable to 
man, his right of self-government. Laboring always at 
the same oar, with some wave ever a head, threatening to 
overwhelm us, and yet passing harmless under our bark, 



we knew not how we rode through the storm with heart 
and hand, and made a happy port. Still, we did not ex 
pect to be without rubs and difficulties ; and we have had 
them. First, the detention of the western posts, then the 
coalition of Pilnitz, outlawing our commerce with France, 
and the British enforcement of the outlawry. In your day, 
French depredations ; in mine, English, and the Berlin and 
Milan decrees; now, the English orders of council, and the 
piracies they authorize. When these shall be over, it will be 
the impressment of our seamen or something else; and so we 
have gone on, and so we shall go on, puzzled and prospering 
beyond example in the history of man. And I do believe we 
shall continue to grow, to multiply and prosper until we ex 
hibit an association, powerful, wise, and happy, beyond 
what has yet been seen by men. As for France and Eng 
land, with all their preeminence in science, the one is a den 
of robbers, and the other of pirates. And if science pro 
duces no better fruits than tyranny, murder, rapine and 
destitution of national morality, I would rather wish our 
country to be ignorant, honest, and estimable, as our neigh 
boring savages are. But whither is senile garrulity leading 
me? Into politics, of which I have taken final leave. I 
think little of them and say less. I have given up news 
papers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton 
and Euclid, and I find myself much the happier. Some 
times, indeed, I look back to former occurrences, in remem 
brance of our old friends and fellow-laborers, who have 
fallen before us. Of the signers of the Declaration of In 
dependence, I see now living not more than half a dozen on 
your side of the Potomac, and on this side, myself alone. 
You and I have been wonderfully spared, and myself with 
remarkable health, and a considerable activity of body and 
mind. I am on horseback three or four hours of every day; 
visit three or four times a year a possession I have ninety 



miles distant, performing the winter journey on horseback. 
I walk little, however, a single mile being too much for me, 
and I live in the midst of my grandchildren, one of whom 
has lately promoted me to be a great-grandfather. I have 
heard with pleasure that you also retain good health, and 
a greater power of exercise in walking than I do. But I 
would rather have heard this from yourself, and that, writ 
ing a letter like mine, full of egotisms, and of details of 
your health, your habits, occupations, and enjoyments, I 
should have the pleasure of knowing that in the race of 
life, you do not keep, in its physical decline, the same 
distance ahead of me which you have done in political 
honors and achievements. No circumstances have lessened 
the interest I feel in these particulars respecting yourself; 
none have suspended for one moment my sincere esteem for 
you, and I now salute you with unchanged affection and 

On Foreign Affairs 

To James Maury 

MONTICELLO, April 25, 1812. 

My dear and ancient Friend and Classmate : Often 
has my heart smote me for delaying acknowledgments to 
you, receiving, as I do, such frequent proofs of your kind 
recollection in the transmission of papers to me. But in 
stead of acting on the good old maxim of not putting off 
to to-morrow what we can do to-day, we are too apt to 
reverse it, and not to do to-day what we can put off to to 
morrow. But this duty can be no longer put off. To-day 
we are at peace; to-morrow, war. The curtain of separa 
tion is drawing between us, and probably will not be with- 



drawn till one, if not both of us, will be at rest with our 
fathers. Let me now, then, while I may, renew to you the 
declarations of my warm attachment, which in no period 
of life has ever been weakened, and seems to become 
stronger as the remaining objects of our youthful affections 
are fewer. 

Our two countries are to be at war, but not you and 
I. And why should our two countries be at war, when by 
peace we can be so much more useful to one another? 
Surely the world will acquit our Government from having 
sought it. Never before has there been an instance of a 
nation s bearing so much as we have borne. Two items 
alone in our catalogue of wrongs will forever acquit us of 
being the aggressors: the impressment of our seamen, and 
the excluding us from the ocean. The first foundations of 
the social compact would be broken up, were we definitively 
to refuse to its members the protection of their persons and 
property, while in their lawful pursuits. I think the war 
will not be short, because the object of England, long 
obvious, is to claim the ocean as her domain, and to exact 
transit duties from every vessel traversing it. This is the 
sum of her orders of council, which were only a step in this 
bold experiment, never meant to be retracted if it could be 
permanently maintained. And this object must continue 
her in war with all the world. To this I see no termina 
tion, until her exaggerated efforts, so much beyond her 
natural strength and resources, shall have exhausted her to 
bankruptcy. The approach of this crisis is, I think, visible 
in the departure of her precious metals, and depreciation 
of her paper medium. We, who have gone through that 
operation, know its symptoms, its course, and consequences. 
In England they will be more serious than elsewhere, be 
cause half the wealth of her people is now in that medium, 
the private revenue of her money-holders, or rather of her 



paper-holders, being, I believe, greater than that of her 
land-holders. Such a proportion of property, imaginary 
and baseless as it is, cannot be reduced to vapor but with 
great explosion. She will rise out of its ruins, however, 
because her lands, her houses, her arts will remain, and the 
greater part of her men. And these will give her again 
that place among nations which is proportioned to her nat 
ural means, and which we all wish her to hold. We believe 
that the just standing of all nations is the health and 
security of all. We consider the. overwhelming power of 
England on the ocean, and of France on the land, as de 
structive of the prosperity and happiness of the world, and 
wish both to be reduced only to the necessity of observing 
moral duties. We believe no more in Bonaparte s fighting 
merely for the liberty of the seas, than in Great Britain s 
fighting for the liberties of mankind. The object of both 
is the same, to draw to themselves the power, the wealth, 
and the resources of other nations. W T e resist the enter 
prises of England first, because they first come vitally home 
to us. And our feelings repel the logic of bearing the lash 
of George the III. for fear of that of Bonaparte at some 
: future day. When the wrongs of France shall reach us 
with equal effect, we shall resist them also. But one at 
! a time is enough ; and having offered a choice to the cham 
pions, England first takes up the gauntlet. 

The English newspapers suppose me the personal enemy 
of their nation. I am not so. I am an enemy to its 
injuries, as I am to those of France. If I could permit 
myself to have national partialities, and if the conduct of 
England would have permitted them to be directed to 
ward her, they would have been so. I thought that in the 
administration of Mr. Addington, I discovered some dis 
positions toward justice, and even friendship and respect 
for us, and began to pave the way for cherishing these 



dispositions, and improving them into ties of mutual good 
will. But we had then a federal minister there, whose 
dispositions to believe himself, and to inspire others with a 
belief, in our sincerity, his subsequent conduct has brought 
into doubt; and poor Merry, the English minister here, had 
learned nothing of diplomacy but its suspicions, without 
head enough to distinguish when they were misplaced. Mr. 
Addington and Mr. Fox passed away too soon to avail the 
two countries of their dispositions. Had I been personally 
hostile to England, and biassed in favor of either the char 
acter or views of her great antagonist, the affair of the 
Chesapeake put war into my hand. I had only to open it 
and let havoc loose. But if ever I was gratified with the 
possession of power, and of the confidence of those who 
had intrusted me with it, it was on that occasion when 
I was enabled to use both for the prevention of war, tow 
ard which the torrent of passion here was directed almost 
irresistibly, and when not another person in the United 
States, less supported by authority and favor, could have 
resisted it. And now that a definitive adherence to her 
impressments and orders of council renders war no longer 
avoidable, my earnest prayer is that our Government may 
enter into no compact of common cause with the other bel 
ligerents, but keep us free to make a separate peace, when 
ever England will separately give us peace and future 
security. But Lord Liverpool is our witness that this can 
never be but by her removal from our neighborhood. 

I have thus, for a moment, taken a range into the field 
of politics, to possess you with the view we take of things 
here. But in the scenes which are to ensue I am to be 
but a spectator. I have withdrawn myself from all politi 
cal intermeddlings, to indulge the evening of my life with 
what have been the passions of every portion of it, books, 
science, my farms, my family and friends. To these every 



hour of the day is now devoted. I retain a good activity 
of mind, not quite as much of body, but uninterrupted 
health. Still the hand of age is upon me. All my old 
friends are nearly gone. Of those in my neighborhood, 
Mr. Divers and Mr. Lindsay alone remain. If you could 
make it a partie quarree, it would be a comfort indeed. We 
would beguile our lingering hours with talking over our 
youthful exploits, our hunts on Peter s mountain, with a 
long train of et cetera, in addition, and feel, by recollection, 
at least, a momentary flash of youth. Reviewing the course 
of a long and sufficiently successful life, I find in no por 
tion of it happier moments than those were. I think the 
old hulk in which you are, is near her wreck, and that, 
like a prudent rat, you should escape in time. However, 
here, there, and everywhere, in peace or in war, you will 
have my sincere affections and prayers for your life, health, 
and happiness. 

On the English Common Law in America 

To Judge John Tyler 

MONTICELLO, June 17, 1812. 

Dear Sir: On the other subject of your letter, the ap 
plication of the common law to our present situation, I de 
ride with you the ordinary doctrine, that we brought with us 
from England the common law rights. This narrow notion 
was a favorite in the first moment of rallying to our rights 
against. Great Britain. But it was that of men who felt 
their rights before they had thought of their explanation. 
The truth is, that we brought with us the rights of men 
of expatriated men. On our arrival here, the question 
would at once arise, By what law will we govern ourselves ? 



The resolution seems to have been, by that system, with 
which we are familiar, to be altered by ourselves occasion 
ally, and adapted to our new situation. The proofs of this 
resolution are to be found in the form of the oaths of the 
judges, 1. Hening s Stat. 169, 187; of the Governor, ib. 
504 ; in the act for a provisional government, ib. 372 ; in the 
preamble to the laws of 1661-62; the uniform current of 
opinions and decisions, and in the general recognition of 
all our statutes, framed on that basis. But the state of 
the English law at the date of our emigration, constituted 
the system adopted here. We may doubt, therefore, the 
propriety of quoting in our courts English authorities sub 
sequent to that adoption ; still more, the admission of au 
thorities posterior to the Declaration of Independence, or 
rather to the accession of that King, whose reign, ab initio, 
was the very tissue of wrongs which rendered the Declara 
tion at length necessary. The reason for it had inception 
at least as far back as the commencement of his reign. 
This relation to the beginning of his reign, would add the 
advantage of getting us rid of all Mansfield s innovations, 
or civilizations of the common law. For however I admit 
the superiority of the civil over the common law code, as a 
system of perfect justice, yet an incorporation of the two 
would be like Nebuchadnezzar s image of metals and clay, 
a thing without cohesion of parts. The only natural im 
provement of the common law is through its homogeneous 
ally, the chancery, in which new principles are to be ex 
amined, concocted, and digested. But when, by repeated 
decisions and modifications, they are rendered pure and cer 
tain, they should be transferred by statute to the courts of 
common law, and placed within the pale of juries. The 
exclusion from the courts of the malign influence of all 
authorities after the Georgium sidus became ascendant, 
would uncanonize Blackstone, whose book, although the 



most elegant and best digested of our law catalogue, has 
been perverted more than all others, to the degeneracy of 
legal science. A student finds there a smattering of every 
thing, and his indolence easily persuades him that if he 
understands that book, he is master of the whole body of 
the law. The distinction between these, and those who 
have drawn their stores from the deep and rich mines of 
Coke and Littleton, seems well understood even by the un 
lettered common people, who apply the appellation of 
Blackstone lawyers to these ephemeral insects of the law. 

Whether we should undertake to reduce the common law, 
our own, and so much of the English statutes as we have 
adopted, to a text, is a question of transcendent difficulty. 
It was discussed at the first meeting of the committee of 
the revised code, in 1776, and decided in the negative, by 
the opinions of Wythe, Mason, and myself, against Pendle- 
ton and Thomas Lee. Pendleton proposed to take Black- 
stone for that text, only purging him of what was inap 
plicable or unsuitable to us. In that case, the meaning of 
every word of Blackstone would have become a source of 
litigation, until it had been settled by repeated legal de 
cisions. And to come at that meaning, we should have had 
produced, on all occasions, that very pile of authorities 
from which it would be said he drew his conclusion, and 
which, of course, would explain it, and the terms in which 
it is couched. Thus we should have retained the same 
chaos of law-lore from which we wished to be emancipated, 
added to the evils of the uncertainty which a new text and 
new phrases would have generated. An example of this 
may be found in the old statutes, and commentaries on 
them, in Coke s second institute, but more remarkably in 
the institute of Justinian, and the vast masses explanatory 
or supplementary of that which fill the libraries of the 
civilians. We were deterred from the attempt by these 



considerations, added to which, the bustle of the times did 
not admit leisure for such an undertaking. 

Your request of my opinion on this subject has given 
you the trouble of these observations. If your firmer mind 
in encountering difficulties would have added your vote to 
the minority of the committee, you would have had on your 
side one of the greatest men of our age, and, like him, 
have detracted nothing from the sentiments of esteem and 
respect which I bore to him, and tender with sincerity the 
assurance of to yourself. 

On Practical Politics 

MONTICELLO, June 15, 1813. 

One of the questions, you know, on which our parties 
took different sides, was on the improvability of the human 
mind in science, in ethics, in government, etc. Those who 
advocated reformation of institutions, pari passu with the 
progress of science, maintained that no definite limits 
could be assigned to that progress. The enemies of re 
form, on the other hand, denied improvement, and advo 
cated stead} 7 adherence to the principles, practices, and 
institutions of our fathers, which they represented as the 
consummation of wisdom, and acme of excellence, beyond 
which the human mind could never advance. Although in 
the passage of your answer alluded to, you expressly dis 
claim the wish to influence the freedom of inquiry, you 
predict that that will produce nothing more worthy of 
transmission to posterity than the principles, institutions, 
and systems of education received from their ancestors. I 
do not consider this as your deliberate opinion. You pos- 



sess, yourself, too much science, not to see how much is 
still ahead of you, unexplained and unexplored. Your 
own consciousness must place you as far before our an 
cestors as in the rear of our posterity. I consider it as an 
expression lent to the prejudices of your friends; and 
although I happened to cite it from you, the whole letter 
shows I had them only in view. In truth, my dear sir, we 
were far from considering you as the author of all the 
measures we blamed. They were placed under the protec 
tion of your name, but we were satisfied they wanted much 
of your approbation. We ascribed them to their real 
authors, the Pickerings, the Wolcotts, the Tracys, the 
Sedgwicks, et id genus omne, with whom we supposed you 
in a state of duresse. I well remember a conversation with 
you in the morning of the day on which you nominated to 
the Senate a substitute for Pickering, in which you ex 
pressed a just impatience under "the legacy of secretaries 
which General Washington had left you," and whom you 
seemed, therefore, to consider as under public protection. 
Many other incidents showed how differently you would 
have acted with less impassioned advisers; and subsequent 
events have proved that your minds were not together. 
You would do me great injustice, therefore, by taking to 
yourself what was intended for men who were then your 
secret, as they are now your open enemies. Should you 
write on the subject, as your propose, I am sure we shall 
see you place yourself farther from them than from us. 


On Finance National Debt Paper Money 

To John W. Eppes 

MONTICELLO, June 24, 1813. 

It is a wise rule, and should be fundamental in a gov 
ernment disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same 
time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its facul 
ties, "never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the 
same instant for paying the interest annually, and the 
principal within a given term; and to consider that tax 
as pledged to the creditors on the public faith." On such 
a pledge as this, sacredly observed, a government may al 
ways command, on a reasonable interest, all the lendable 
money of their citizens, while the necessity of an equivalent 
tax is a salutary warning to them and their constituents 
against oppressions, bankruptcy, and its inevitable conse 
quence, revolution. But the term of redemption must be 
moderate, and at any rate within the limits of their 
rightful powers. But what limits, it will be asked, does 
this prescribe to their powers ? What is to hinder them 
from creating a perpetual debt? The laws of nature, I 
answer. The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead. 
The will and the power of man expire with his life, by 
nature s law. Some societies give it an artificial continu 
ance, for the encouragement of industry; some refuse it, 
as our aboriginal neighbors, whom we call barbarians. 
The generations of men may be considered as bodies or 
corporations. Each generation has the usufruct of the 
earth during the period of its continuance. When it ceases 
to exist, the usufruct passes on to the succeeding genera 
tion, free and unincumbered, and so on, successively, from 
one generation to another forever. We may consider each 



generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of 
its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the suc 
ceeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another 
country. Or the case may be likened to the ordinary one 
of a tenant for life, who may hypothecate the land for 
his debts, during the continuance of his usufruct; but at his 
death, the reversioner (who is also for life only) receives 
it exonerated from all burthen. The period of a generation, 
or the term of its life, is determined by the laws of mor 
tality which, varying a little only in different climates, 
offer a general average, to be found by observation. I 
turn, for instance, to Buffon s tables, of twenty-three 
thousand nine hundred and ninety-four deaths, and the 
ages at which they happened, and I find that of the num 
bers of all ages living at one moment, half will be dead 
in twenty-four years and eight months. But (leaving out 
minors, who have not the power of self-government) of 
the adults (of twenty-one years of age) living at one mo 
ment, a majority of whom act for the society, one-half 
will be dead in eighteen years and eight months. At nine 
teen years, then, from the date of a contract, the majority 
of the contractors are dead, and their contract with them. 
Let this general theory be applied to a particular case. 
Suppose the annual births of the State of New York to 
be twenty-three thousand nine hundred and ninety-four, 
the whole number of its inhabitants, according to Buffon, 
Avill be six hundred and seventeen thousand seven hundred 
and three, of all ages. Of these there would constantly 
be two hundred and sixty-nine thousand two hundred and 
eighty-six minors, and three hundred and forty-eight 
thousand four hundred and seventeen adults, of which last, 
one hundred and seventy-four thousand two hundred and 
nine will be a majority. Suppose that majority, on the 
first day of the year 1794, had borrowed a sum of money 



equal to the fee-simple value of the State, and to have 
consumed it in eating, drinking, and making merry in their 
day; or, if you please, in quarrelling and fighting with 
their unoffending neighbors. Within eighteen years and 
eight months, one-half of the adult citizens were dead. Till 
then, being the majority, they might rightfully levy the in 
terest of their debt annually on themselves and their fellow- 
revellers or fellow-champions. But at that period, say at 
this moment, a new majority have come into place, in their 
own right, and not under the rights, the conditions, or laws 
of their predecessors. Are they bound to acknowledge the 
debt, to consider the preceding generation as having had 
a right to eat up the whole soil of their country, in the 
course of a life, to alienate it from them, (for it would 
be an alienation to the creditors), and would they think 
themselves either legally or morally bound to give up their 
country and emigrate to another for subsistence? Every 
one will say no; that the soil is the gift of God to the 
living, as much as it had been to the deceased generation; 
and that the laws of nature impose no obligation on them 
to pay this debt. And although, like some other natural 
rights, this has not yet entered into any declaration of 
rights, it is no less a law, and ought to be acted on by 
honest governments. It is, at the same time, a salutary 
curb on the spirit of war and indebtment, which, since 
the modern theory of the perpetuation of debt, has 
drenched the earth with blood, and crushed its inhabitants 
under burdens ever accumulating. Had this principle been 
declared in the British bill of rights, England would have 
been placed under the happy disability of waging eternal 
war, and of contracting her thousand millions of public 
debt. In seeking, then, for an ultimate term for the re 
demption of our debts, let us rally to this principle, and 
provide for their payment within the term of nineteen 



years at the farthest. Our Government has not, as yet, 
begun to act on the rule of loans and taxation going hand 
in hand. Had any loan taken place in my time, I should 
have strongly urged a redeeming tax. For the loan which 
has been made since the last session of Congress, we 
should now set the example of appropriating some particu 
lar tax, sufficient to pay the interest annually, and the 
principal within a fixed term, less than nineteen years. 
And I hope yourself and your committee will render the 
immortal service of introducing this practice. Not that it 
is expected that Congress should formally declare such a 
principle. They wisely enough avoid deciding on abstract 
questions. But they may be induced to keep themselves 
within its limits. 

I am sorry to see our loans begin at so exorbitant an 
interest. And yet, even at that you will soon be at the 
bottom of the loan-bag. We are an agricultural nation. 
Such an one employs its sparings in the purchase or im 
provement of land or stocks. The lendable money among 
them is chiefly that of orphans and wards in the hands 
of executors and guardians, and that which the farmer 
lays by till he has enough for the purchase in view. In 
such a nation there is one and one only resource for loans, 
sufficient to carry them through the expense of a war, 
and that will always be sufficient, and in the power of 
an honest government, punctual in the preservation of its 
faith. The fund I mean, is the mass of circulating coin. 
Every one knows, that although not literally, it is nearly 
true, that every paper dollar emitted banishes a silver one 
from the circulation. A nation, therefore, making its pur 
chases and payments with bills fitted for circulation, 
thrusts an equal sum of coin out of circulation. This is 
equivalent to borrowing that sum, and yet the vendor re 
ceiving payment in a medium as effectual as coin for his 


purchases or payments, has no claim to interest. And so 
the nation may continue to issue its bills as far as its 
wants require, and the limits of the circulation will admit. 
Those limits are understood to extend with us at present 
to two hundred millions of dollars, a greater sum than 
would be necessary for any war. But this, the only re 
source which the Government could command with cer 
tainty, the States have unfortunately fooled away, nay, 
corruptly alienated to swindlers and shavers, under the 
cover of private banks. Say, too, as an additional evil, 
that the disposal funds of individuals, to this great amount, 
have thus been withdrawn from improvement and useful 
enterprise, and employed in the useless, usurious, and de 
moralizing practices of bank directors and their accomplices. 
In the war of 1755, our State availed itself of this fund 
by issuing a paper-money bottomed on a specific tax for 
its redemption, and, to insure its credit, bearing an interest 
of five per cent. Within a very short time, not a bill of 
this emission was to be found in circulation. It was 
locked up in the chests of executors, guardians, widows, 
farmers, etc. We then issued bills bottomed on a redeem 
ing tax, but bearing no interest. These were readily re 
ceived, and never depreciated a single farthing. In the 
Revolutionary War, the old Congress and the States issued 
bills without interest, and without tax. They occupied the 
channels of circulation very freely, till those channels were 
overflowed by an excess beyond all the calls of circulation. 
But although we have so improvidently suffered the field 
of circulating medium to be filched from us by private 
individuals, yet I think we may recover it in part, and 
even in the whole, if the States will co-operate with us. If 
treasury bills are emitted on a tax appropriated for their 
redemption in fifteen years, and (to insure preference in 
the first moments of competition) bearing an interest of 



six per cent., there is no one who would not take them in 
preference to the bank paper now afloat, on a principle of 
patriotism as well as interest and they would be withdrawn 
from circulation into private hoards to a considerable 
amount. Their credit once established, others might be 
emitted, bottomed also on a tax, but not bearing interest; 
and if ever their credit faltered, open public loans, on 
which these bills alone should be received as specie. 
These, operating as a sinking fund, would reduce the quan 
tity in circulation, so as to maintain that in an equilibrium 
with specie. It is not easy to estimate the obstacles which, 
in the beginning, we should encounter in ousting the banks 
from their possession of the circulation; but a steady and 
judicious alternation of emissions and loans, would reduce 
them in time. But, while this is going on, another measure 
should be pressed, to recover ultimately our right to the 
circulation. The States should be applied to, to transfer 
the right of issuing circulating paper to Congress ex 
clusively, in perpetuum, if possible, but, during the war, at 
least, with a saving of charter rights. I believe that every 
State west and south of Connecticut River, except Dela 
ware, would immediately do it, and the others would follow 
in time. Congress would, of course, begin by obliging un- 
chartered banks to wind up their affairs within a short 
time, and the others as their charters expired, forbidding 
the subsequent circulation of their paper. This they would 
supply with their own, bottomed, every emission, on an 
adequate tax, and bearing or not bearing interest, as the 
state of the public pulse should indicate. Even in the non- 
complying States, these bills would make their way, and 
supplant the unfunded paper of their banks, by their 
solidity, by the universality of their currency, and by their 
receivability for customs and taxes. It would be in 
their power, too, to curtail those banks to the amount of 



their actual specie, by gathering up their paper, and run 
ning it constantly on them. The national paper might thus 
take place even in the non-complying States. In this way, I 
am not without a hope, that this great, this sole resource for 
loans in an agricultural country, might yet be recovered for 
the use of the nation during war, and, if obtained in per- 
petuum, it would always be sufficient to carry us through 
any war; provided, that in the interval between war and 
war, all the outstanding paper should be called in, coin be 
permitted to flow in again, and to hold the field of circula 
tion until another war should require its yielding place 
again to the national medium. 

But, it will be asked, are we to have no banks ? Are 
merchants and others to be deprived of the resource of 
short accommodations, found so convenient? I answer, let 
us have banks; but let them be such as are alone to be 
found in any country on earth, except Great Britain. 
There is not a bank of discount on the Continent of 
Europe (at least there was not one when I was there) 
which offers anything but cash in exchange for discounted 
bills. No one has a natural right to the trade of a money 
lender, but he who has the money to lend. Let those then 
among us, who have a moneyed capital, and who prefer 
employing it in loans rather than otherwise, set up banks, 
and give cash or national bills for the notes they discount. 
Perhaps, to encourage them, a larger interest than is legal 
in the other cases might be allowed them, on the condition 
of their lending for short periods only. It is from Great 
Britain we copy the idea of giving paper in exchange for 
discounted bills ; and while we have derived from that 
country some good principles of government and legisla 
tion, we unfortunately run into the most servile imitation 
of all her practices, ruinous as they prove to her, and with 
the gulf yawning before us into which these very practices 



are precipitating her. The unlimited emission of bank 
paper has banished all her specie, and is now, by a depreci 
ation acknowledged by her own statesmen, carrying her 
rapidly to bankruptcy, as it did France, as it did us, and 
will do us again, and every country permitting paper to be 
circulated, other than that by public authority, rigorously 
limited to the just measure for circulation. Private fort 
unes, in the present state of our circulation, are at the 
mercy of those self-created money-lenders, and are pros 
trated by the floods of nominal money with which their 
avarice deluges us. He who lent his money to the public 
or to an individual, before the institution of the United 
States Bank, twenty years ago, when wheat was well sold 
at a dollar the bushel, and receives now his nominal sum 
when it sells at two dollars, is cheated of half his fortune; 
and by whom? By the banks, which, since that, have 
thrown into circulation ten dollars of their nominal money 
where was one at that time. 

On Political History 

To John Adams 

MONTICELLO, June 27, 1813. 
5 iro\v8ei>8pov avrjp v\r)TOfj,o<s cA.$an/ 

Traptovros aSrjv, TroOev apteral epyco 
Ti Trparov KaraAe^w; CTTEC Trapa /xvpta 

And I, too, my dear sir, like the wood-cutter of Ida, 
should doubt where to begin, were I to enter the forest of 
opinions, discussions, and contentions which have occurred 
in our day. I should say with Theocritus, Tt irparov 
CTTCI Trapa /xvpta fnrrjv. But I shall not do it. 


The summum bonum with me is now truly Epicurean, ease 
of body and tranquillity of mind; and to these I wish to 
consign my remaining days. Men have differed in opinion, 
and been divided into parties by these opinions, from the 
first origin of societies, and in all governments where they 
have been permitted freely to think and to speak. The 
same political parties which now agitate the United States, 
have existed through all time. Whether the power of the 
people or that of the apurroi. should prevail, were ques 
tions which kept the States of Greece arid Rome in eternal 
convulsions, as they now schismatize every people whose 
minds and mouths are not shut up by the gag of a despot. 
And, in fact, the terms of whig and tory belong to natural 
as well as to civil history. They denote the temper and 
constitution of mind of different individuals. To come to 
our own country, and to the times when you and I became 
first acquainted, we will remember the violent parties which 
agitated the old Congress, and their bitter contests. There 
you and I were together, and the Jays, and the Dickinsons, 
and other anti-independents, were arrayed against us. 
They cherished the monarchy of England, and we the 
rights of our countrymen. When our present Government 
was in the mew, passing from Confederation to Union, how 
bitter was the schism between the Feds and Antis ! Here 
you and I were together again. For although, for a mo 
ment, separated by the Atlantic from the scene of action, 
I favored the opinion that nine States should confirm the 
Constitution, in order to secure it, and the others hold off 
until certain amendments, deemed favorable to freedom, 
should be made. I rallied in the first instant to the wiser 
proposition of Massachusetts, that all should confirm, and 
then all instruct their delegates to urge those amendments. 
The amendments were made, and all were reconciled to the 
Government. But as soon as it was put into motion, the 



line of division was again drawn. We broke into two 
parties, each wishing to give the Government a different 
direction : the one to strengthen the most popular branch, 
the other the more permanent branches, and to extend 
their permanence. Here you and I separated for the first 
time, and as we had been longer than most others on the 
public theatre, and our names therefore were more familiar 
to our countrymen, the party which considered you as 
thinking with them, placed your name at their head; the 
other, for the same reason, selected mine. But neither 
decency nor inclination permitted us to become the advo 
cates of ourselves, or to take part personally in the violent 
contests which followed. We suffered ourselves, as you 
so well expressed it, to be passive subjects of public dis 
cussion. And these discussions, whether relating to men, 
measures, or opinions, were conducted by the parties with 
an animosity, a bitterness, and an indecency which had 
never been exceeded. All the resources of reason and of 
wrath were exhausted by each party in support of its own, 
and to prostrate the adversary opinions ; one was up 
braided with receiving the anti-federalists, the other the old 
tories and refugees, into their bosom. Of this acrimony, 
the public papers of the day exhibit ample testimony, in 
the debates of Congress, of State Legislatures, of stump- 
orators, in addresses, answers, and newspaper essays ; and 
to these, without question, may be added the private cor 
respondences of individuals; and the less guarded in these, 
because not meant for the public eye, not restrained by the 
respect due to that, but poured forth from the over 
flowings of the heart into the bosom of a friend, as a mo 
mentary easement of our feelings. In this way, and in 
answers to addresses, you and I could indulge ourselves. 
We have probably done it, sometimes with warmth, often 
with prejudice, but always, as we believed, adhering to 



truth. I have not examined my letters of that day. I 
have no stomach to revive the memory of its feelings. But 
one of these letters, it seems, has got before the public, 
by accident and infidelity, by the death of one friend to 
whom it was written, and of his friend to whom it had been 
communicated, and by the malice and treachery of a third 
person, of whom I had never before heard, merely to make 
mischief, and in the same satanic spirit in which the same 
enemy had intercepted and published, in 1776, your letter 
animadverting on Dickinson s character. How it happened 
that I quoted you in my letter to Dr. Priestley, and for 
whom, and not for yourself, the strictures were meant, has 
been explained to you in my letter of the 15th, which 
had been committed to the post eight days before I re 
ceived yours of the 10th, llth, and 1-lth. That gave you 
the reference which these asked to the particular answer 
alluded to in the one to Priestley. The renewal of these 
old discussions, my friend, would be equally useless and 
irksome. To the volumes then written on these subjects, 
human ingenuity can add nothing new, and the rather, as 
lapse of time has obliterated many of the facts. And 
shall you and I, my dear sir, at our age, like Priam of old, 
gird on the "arma, diu desueta, trementibus cevo humeris?" 
Shall we, at our age, become the Athletae of party, and ex 
hibit ourselves as gladiators in the arena of the newspa 
pers? Nothing in the universe could induce me to it. My 
mind has been long fixed to bow to the judgment of the 
world, who will judge by my acts, and will never take 
counsel from me as to what that judgment shall be. If 
your objects and opinions have been misunderstood, if the 
measures and principles of others have been wrongfully 
imputed to you, as I believe they have been, that you 
should leave an explanation of them, would be an act of 
justice to yourself. I will add, that it has been hoped that 



you would leave such explanations as would place every 
saddle on its right horse, and replace on the shoulders of 
others the burdens they shifted on yours. 

But all this, my friend, is offered merely for your con 
sideration and judgment, without presuming to anticipate 
what you alone are qualified to decide for yourself. I 
mean to express my own purpose only, and the reflections 
which have led to it. To me, then, it appears that there 
have been differences of opinion and party differences, from 
the first establishment of governments to the present day, 
and on the same question which now divides our own coun 
try; that these will continue through all future time; that 
every one takes his side in favor of the many or of the 
few, according to his constitution and the circumstances in 
which he is placed; that opinions, which are equally honest 
on both sides, should not affect personal esteem or social 
intercourse; that as we judge between the Claudii and the 
Gracchi, the Wentworths and the Hampdens of past ages, 
so of those among us whose names may happen to be re 
membered for a while, the next generations will judge, 
favorably or unfavorably, according to the complexion of 
individual minds and the side they shall themselves have 
taken ; that nothing new can be added by you or me to 
what has been said by others, and will be said in every age 
in support of the conflicting opinions on government; and 
that wisdom and duty dictate an humble resignation to the 
verdict of our future peers. In doing this myself, I shall 
certainly not suffer moot questions to affect the sentiments 
of sincere friendship and respect consecrated to you by so 
long a course of time, and of which I now repeat sincere 


On Term of Office and Massachusetts Politics 

To James Martin 

MONTICELLO, September 20, 1813. 

Sir: Your quotation from the former paper alludes, as 
I presume, to the term of office to our Senate; a term, like 
that of the judges, too long for my approbation. I am for 
responsibilities at short periods, seeing neither reason nor 
safety in making public functionaries independent of the 
nation for life, or even for long terms of years. On this 
principle I prefer the Presidential term of four years, to 
that of seven years, which I myself had at first suggested, 
annexing to it, however, ineligibility forever after; and I 
wish it were now annexed to the second quadrennial election 
of President. 

The conduct of Massachusetts, which is the subject of 
your address to Mr. Quincy, is serious, as embarrassing the 
operations of the war, and joepardizing its issue; and still 
more so, as an example of contumacy against the Constitu 
tion. One method of proving their purpose, would be to 
call a convention of their State, and to require them to 
declare themselves members of the Union, and obedient to 
its determinations, or not members, and let them go. Put 
this question solemnly to their people, and their answer 
cannot be doubtful. One-half of them are republicans, and 
would cling to the Union from principle. Of the other 
half, the dispassionate part would consider: 1st. That they 
do not raise bread sufficient for their own subsistence, and 
must look to Europe for the deficiency, if excluded from 
our ports, which vital interests would force us to do. 2d. 
That they are navigating people without a stick of tim 
ber for the hull of a ship, or a pound of anything to ex- 



port in it, which would be admitted at any market. 3d. 
That they are also a manufacturing people, and left by 
the exclusive system of Europe, without a market but ours. 
4th. That as the rivals of England in manufactures, in 
commerce, in navigation, and fisheries, they would meet her 
competition in every point. 5th. That England would feel 
no scruples in making the abandonment and ruin of such a 
rival the price of a treaty with the producing States, whose 
interest, too, it would be to nourish a navigation beyond the 
Atlantic, rather than a hostile one at our own door. And 
6th. That in case of war with the Union, which occurrences 
between coterminous nations frequently produce, it would 
be a contest of one against fifteen. The remaining portion 
of the federal moiety of the State would, I believe, brave 
all these obstacles, because they are monarchists in prin 
ciple, bearing deadly hatred to the republican fellow- 
citizens, impatient under the ascendancy of republican 
principles, devoted in their attachment to England, and 
preferring to be placed under her despotism, if they cannot 
hold the helm of government here. I see, in their separa 
tion, no evil but the example, and I believe that the effect 
of that would be corrected by an early and humiliating re 
turn to the Union, after losing much of the population of 
their country, insufficient in its own resources to feed her 
numerous inhabitants, and inferior in all its allurements to 
the more inviting soils, climates, and governments of the 
other States. Whether a dispassionate discussion before the 
public, of the advantages and disadvantages of separation 
to both parties, would be the best medicine for this dialytic 
fever, or to consider it as sacrilege ever to touch, the ques 
tion, may be doubted. I am, myself, generally disposed to 
indulge, and to follow reason; and believe that in no case 
would it be safer than in the present. Their refractory 
course, however, will not be unpunished by the indignation 



of their co-States, their loss of influence with them, the 
censures of history, and the stain on the character of their 

The Monroe Doctrine Foreshadowed 

Baron Alexander von Humboldt 

MONTPELIER, December 6, 1813. 

I think it most fortunate that your travels in those 
countries were so timed as to make them known to the 
world in the moment they were about to become actors 
on its stage. That they will throw off their European de 
pendence I have no doubt, but in what kind of government 
their revolution will end I am not so certain. History, I 
believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people 
maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest 
grade of ignorance, of which their civil as well as religious 
leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes. 
The vicinity of New Spain to the United States, and their 
consequent intercourse, may furnish schools for the higher, 
and example for the lower classes of their citizens. And 
Mexico, where we learn from you that men of science are 
not wanting, may revolutionize itself under better auspices 
than the Southern provinces. These last, I fear, must end 
in military despotisms. The different castes of their in 
habitants, their mutual hatreds and jealousies, their pn>- 
found ignorance and bigotry, will be played off by cunning 
leaders, and each be made the instrument of enslaving the 
others. But of all this you can best judge, for in truth we 
have little knowledge of them to be depended on, but 
through you. But in whatever governments they end they 
will be American governments, no longer to be involved in 
the never-ceasing broils of Europe. The European nations 



constitute a separate division of the globe; their localities 
make them part of a distinct system; they have a set of 
interests of their own in which it is our business never to 
engage ourselves. America has a hemisphere to itself. It 
must have its separate system of interests, which must not 
be subordinated to those of Europe. The insulated state 
in which nature has placed the American continent, should 
so far avail it that no spark of war kindled in the other 
quarters of the globe should be wafted across the wide 
oceans which separate us from them. And it will be so. 
In fifty years more the United States alone will contain 
fifty millions of inhabitants, and fifty years are soon gone 
over. The peace of 1763 is within that period. I was 
then twenty years old, and of course remember well all the 
transactions of the war preceding it. And you will live to 
see the epoch now equally ahead of us ; and the numbers 
which will then be spread over the other parts of the Ameri 
can hemisphere, catching long before that the principles of 
our portion of it, and concurring with us in the maintenance 
of the same system. You see how readily we run into ages 
beyond the grave; and even those of us to whom that grave 
is already opening its quiet bosom. I am anticipating 
events of which you will be the bearer to me in the Elysian 
fields fifty years hence. 

On the Character of Washington 

To Dr. Walter Jones 

MONTICELLO, January 2, 1814. 

I think I knew General Washington intimately and 
thoroughly ; and were I called on to delineate his character, 
it should be in terms like these. 



His mind was great and powerful, without being of the 
very first order ; his penetration strong, though not so acute 
as that of a Newton, Bacon, or Locke ; and as far as he 
saw, no judgment was ever sounder. It was slow in opera 
tion, being little aided by invention or imagination, but sure 
in conclusion. Hence the common remark of his officers, 
of the advantage he derived from councils of war, where 
hearing all suggestions, he selected whatever was best; and 
certainly no general ever planned his battles more judi 
ciously. But if deranged during the course of the action, 
if any member of his plan was dislocated by sudden cir 
cumstances, he was slow in re-adjustment. The conse 
quence was, that he often failed in the field, and rarely 
against an enemy in station, as at Boston and York. He 
was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the 
calmest unconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his 
character was prudence, never acting until every circum 
stance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refrain 
ing if he saw a doubt, but, when once decided, going 
through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His 
integrity was most pure, his justice the most indexible I 
have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, 
of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. 
He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, 
and a great man. His temper was naturally irritable and 
high toned; but reflection and resolution had obtained a 
firm and habitual ascendancy over it. If ever, however, it 
broke its bonds, he was most tremendous in his wrath. In 
his expenses he was honorable, but exact; liberal in con 
tributions to whatever promised utility; but frowning and 
unyielding on all visionary projects, and all unworthy calls 
on his charity. His heart was not warm in its affections; 
but he exactly calculated every man s value, and gave him 
a solid esteem proportioned to it. His person, you know, 



fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his de 
portment easy, erect and noble; the best horseman of his 
age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on 
horseback. Although in the circle of his friends, where 
he might be unreserved with safety, he took a free share 
in conversation, his colloquial talents were not above medioc 
rity, possessing neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of 
words. In public, when called on for a sudden opinion, 
he was unready, short and embarrassed. Yet he wrote 
readily, rather diffusely, in an easy and correct style. This 
he had acquired by conversation with the world, for his edu 
cation was merely reading, writing and common arithmetic, 
to which he added surveying at a later day. His time was 
employed in action chiefly, reading little, and that only 
in agriculture and English history. His correspondence 
became necessarily extensive, and, with journalizing his 
agricultural proceedings, occupied most of his leisure hours 
within doors. On the whole, his character was, in its mass, 
perfect, in nothing bad, in few points indifferent; and it 
may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune com 
bine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him 
in the siine constellation with whatever worthies have 
merited from man an everlasting remembrance. For his 
was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies 
of his country successfully through an arduous war, for the 
establishment of its independence ; of conducting its councils 
through the birth of a government, new in its forms and 
principles, until it had settled down into a quiet and orderly 
train ; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through the 
whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history 
of the world furnishes no other example. 

How, then, can it be perilous for you to take such a man 
on your shoulders ? I am satisfied the great body of re 
publicans think of him as I do. We were, indeed, dis- 



satisfied with him on his ratification of the British treaty. 
But this was short-lived. We knew his honesty, the wiles 
with which he was encompassed, and that age had already 
begun to relax the firmness of his purposes; and I am con 
vinced he is more deeply seated in the love and gratitude 
of the republicans, than in the Pharisaical homage of the 
federal monarchists. P or he was no monarchist from pref 
erence of his judgment. The soundness of that gave him 
correct views of the rights of man, and his severe justice 
devoted him to them. He has often declared to me that he 
considered our new Constitution as an experiment on the 
practicability of republican government, and with what 
dose of liberty man could be trusted for his own good ; that 
he was determined the experiment should have a fair trial, 
and would lose the last drop of his blood in support of it. 
And these declarations he repeated to me the oftener and 
more pointedly, because he knew my suspicions of Colonel 
Hamilton s views, and probably had heard from him the 
same declarations which I had, to wit, "that the British 
constitution, with its unequal representation, corruption and 
other existing abuses, was the most perfect government 
which had ever been established on earth, and that a ref 
ormation of those abuses would make it an impracticable 
government." I do believe that General Washington had 
not a firm confidence in the durability of our government. 
He was naturally distrustful of men, and inclined to gloomy 
apprehensions ; and I was ever persuaded that a belief that 
we must at length end in something like a British constitu 
tion, had some weight in his adoption of the ceremonies of 
levees, birthdays, pompous meetings with Congress, and 
other forms of the same character, calculated to prepare us 
gradually for a change which he believed possible, and to 
let it come on with as little shock as might be to the public 



These are my opinions of General Washington, which I 
would vouch at the judgment seat of God, having been 
formed on an acquaintance of thirty years. I served with 
him in the Virginia legislature from 1769 to the Revolu 
tionary war, and again, a short time in Congress, until he 
left us to take command of the army. During the war 
and after it we corresponded occasionally, and in the four 
years of my continuance in the office of Secretary of State, 
our intercourse was daily, confidential and cordial. After 
I retired from that office, great and malignant pains were 
taken by our federal monarchists, and not entirely without 
effect, to make him view me as a theorist, holding French 
principles of government, which would lead infallibly to 
licentiousness and anarchy. And to this he listened the 
more easily, from my known disapprobation of the British 
treaty. I never saw him afterwards, or these malignant in 
sinuations should have been dissipated before his just judg 
ment, as mists before the sun. I felt on his death, with my 
countrymen, that "verily a great man hath fallen this day 
in Israel." 

More time and recollection would enable me to add many 
other traits of his character; but why add them to you who 
knew him well? And I cannot justify to myself a longer 
detention of your paper. 

Vole, proprieque tuum, me esse tibi persuadeas. 

On the Basis of Morality 

To Thomas Law 

POPLAR FOREST, June 13, 1811. 

Of all the theories on this question, the most whim 
sical seems to have been that of Wollaston, who con- 



siders truth as the foundation of morality. The thief who 
steals your guinea does wrong only inasmuch as he acts a 
lie in using your guinea as if it were his own. Truth is 
certainly a branch of morality, and a very important one 
to society. But presented as its foundation, it is as if a 
tree taken up by the roots, had its stem reversed in the 
air, and one of its branches planted in the ground. Some 
have made the love of God the foundation of morality. 
This, too, is but a branch of our moral duties, which are 
generally divided into duties to God and duties to man. 
If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a 
belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality 
of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such 
being exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as 
of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, 
and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, 
indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the 
defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is 
to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Did 
erot, D Alembert, D Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have 
been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, 
must have had some other foundation than the love of 

The To KaXov of others is founded in a different faculty, 
that of taste, which is not even a branch of morality. We 
have indeed an innate sense of what we call beautiful, but 
that is exercised chiefly on subjects addressed to the fancy, 
whether through the eye in visible forms, as landscape, ani 
mal figure, dress, drapery, architecture, the composition of 
colors, etc., or to the imagination directly, as imagery, style, 
or measure in prose or poetry, or whatever else constitutes 
the domain of criticism or taste, a faculty entirely distinct 
from the moral one. Self-interest, or rather self-love, or 
egoism, has been more plausibly substituted as the basis of 



morality. But I consider our relations with others as consti 
tuting the boundaries of morality. With ourselves we stand 
on the ground of identity, not of relation, which last, re 
quiring two subjects, excludes self-love confined to a single 
one. To ourselves, in strict language, we can owe no duties, 
obligation requiring also two parties. Self-love, therefore, 
is no part of morality. Indeed it is exactly its counterpart. 
It is the sole antagonist of virtue, leading us constantly by 
our propensities to self-gratification in violation of our 
moral duties to others. Accordingly, it is against this 
enemy that are erected the batteries of moralists and re 
ligionists, as the only obstacle to the practice of morality. 
Take from man his selfish propensities, and he can have 
nothing to seduce him from the practice of virtue. Or sub 
due those propensities by education, instruction or restraint, 
and virtue remains without a competitor. Egoism, in a 
broader sense, has been thus presented as the source of 
moral action. It has been said that we feed the hungry, 
clothe the naked, bind up the wounds of the man beaten 
by thieves, pour oil and wine into them, set him on our 
own beast and bring him to the inn, because we receive 
ourselves pleasure from these acts. . . . These good acts 
give us pleasure, but how happens it that they give us 
pleasure? Because nature hath implanted in our breasts a 
love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct, 
in short, which prompts us irresistibly to feel and to 
succor their distresses. . . . The Creator would indeed 
have been a bungling artist, had he intended man for a 
social animal, without planting in him social dispositions. 
It is true they are not planted in every man, because there 
is no rule without exceptions ; but it is false reasoning which 
converts exceptions into the general rule. Some men are 
born without the organs of sight, or of hearing, or without 
hands. Yet it would be wrong to say that man is born 



without these faculties, and sight, hearing, and hands may 
with truth enter into the general definition of man. 

The want or imperfection of the moral sense in some 
men, like the want or imperfection of the senses of sight 
and hearing in others, is no proof that it is a general char 
acteristic of the species. When it is wanting, we endeavor 
to supply the defect by education, by appeals to reason and 
calculation, by presenting to the being so unhappily con 
formed, other motives to do good and to eschew evil, such 
as tLe lov , or the hatred, or rejection of those among whom 
he lives, and whose society is necessary to his happiness and 
even existence ; demonstrations by sound calculation that 
honesty promotes interest in the long run; the rewards and 
penalties established by the laws ; and ultimately the pros 
pects of a future state of retribution for the evil as well 
as the good done while here. These are the correctives 
which are supplied by education, and which exercise the 
functions of the moralist, the preacher, and legislator; and 
they lead into a course of correct action all those whose 
disparity is not too profound to be eradicated. Some have 
argued against the existence of a moral sense, by saying 
that if nature had given us such a sense, impelling us 
to virtuous actions, and warning us against those which are 
vicious, then nature would also have designated, by some 
particular ear-marks, the two sets of actions which are, in 
themselves, the one virtuous and the other vicious. V"here- 
as, we find, in fact, that the same actions are deemed virt 
uous in one country and vicious in another. The answer 
is, that nature has constituted utility to man, the standard 
and test of virtue. Men living in different countries, under 
different circumstances, different habits and regimens, may 
have different utilities; the same act, therefore, may be 
useful, and consequently virtuous in one country which is 
injurious and vicious in another differently circumstanced. 



I sincerely, then, believe with you in the general existence 
of a moral instinct. I think it the brightest gem with which 
the human character is studded, and the want of it as more 
degrading than the most hideous of the bodily deformities. 

Comparison of Great Britain and the United 


To Dr. Thomas Cooper 

MOXTICELLO, September 10, 1814. 

A comparison of the conditions of Great Britain and 
the United States, which is the subject of your letter 
of August 17th, would be an interesting theme indeed. 
To discuss it minutely and demonstratively would be far 
beyond the limits of a letter. I will give you, therefore, 
in brief only, the result of my reflections on the subject. 
I agree with you in your facts, and in many of your re 
flections. My conclusion is without doubt, as I am sure 
yours will be, when the appeal to your sound judgment is 
seriously made. The population of England is composed 
of three descriptions of persons (for those of minor note 
are too inconsiderable to affect a general estimate). These 
are, 1. The aristocracy, comprehending the nobility, the 
wealthy commoners, the high grades of priesthood, and the 
officers of government. 2. The laboring class. 3. The elee 
mosynary class, or paupers, who are about one-fifth of the 
whole. The aristocracy, which have the laws and govern 
ment in their hands, have so managed them as to reduce the 
third description below the means of supporting life, even 
by labor; and to force the second, whether employed in 
agriculture or the arts, to the maximum of labor which the 
construction of the human body can endure, and to the 
minimum of food, and of the meanest kind, which will 



preserve it in life, and in strength sufficient to perform its 
functions. To obtain food enough, and clothing, not only 
their whole strength must be unremittingly exerted, but the 
utmost dexterity also which they can acquire; and those of 
great dexterity only can keep their ground, while those of 
less must sink into the class of paupers. Nor is it manual 
dexterity alone, but the acutest resources of the mind also 
which are impressed into this struggle for life; and such as 
have means a little above the rest, as the master-workmen, 
for instance, must strengthen themselves by acquiring as 
much of the philosophy of their trade as will enable them to 
compete with their rivals, and keep themselves above ground. 
Hence the industry and manual dexterity of their journey 
men and day-laborers, and the science of their master-work 
men, keep them in the foremost ranks of competition with 
those of other nations; and the less dexterous individuals, 
falling into the eleemosynary ranks, furnish materials for 
armies and navies to defend their country, exercise piracy 
on the ocean, and carry conflagration, plunder and devasta 
tion, on the shores of all those who endeavor to withstand 
their aggressions. A society thus constituted possesses cer 
tainly the means of defence. But what does it defend? 
The pauperism of the lowest class, the abject oppression 
of the laboring, and the luxury, the riot, the domination and 
the vicious happiness of the aristocracy. In their hands, 
the paupers are used as tools to maintain their own wretch 
edness, and to keep down the laboring portion by shooting 
them whenever the desperation produced by the cravings of 
their stomachs drives them into riots. Such is the happi 
ness of scientific England; now let us see the American side 
of the medal. 

And, first, we have no paupers, the old and crippled 
among us, who possess nothing and have no families to take 
care of them, being too few to merit notice as a separate 



section of society, or to affect a general estimate. The 
great mass of our population is of laborers; our rich, who 
can live without labor, either manual or professional, being 
few, and of moderate wealth. Most of the laboring class 
possess property, cultivate their own lands, have families, 
and from the demand for their labor are enabled to exact 
from the rich and the competent such prices as enable them 
to be fed abundantly, clothed above mere decency, to labor 
moderately and raise their families. They are not driven 
to the ultimate resources of dexterity and skill, because their 
wares will sell although not quite so nice as those of Eng 
land. The wealthy, on the other hand, and those at their 
ease, know nothing of what the Europeans call luxury. 
They have only somewhat more of the comforts and de 
cencies of life than those who furnish them. Can any 
condition of society be more desirable than this ? Nor in 
the class of laborers do I mean to withhold from the com 
parison that portion whose color has condemned them, in 
certain parts of our Union, to a subjection to the will of 
others. Even these are better fed in these States, warmer 
clothed, and labor less than the journeymen or day-laborers 
of England. They have the comfort, too, of numerous 
families, in the midst of whom they live without want, or 
fear of it; a solace which few of the laborers of England 
possess. They are subject, it is true, to bodily coercion; 
but are not the hundreds of thousands of British soldiers 
and seamen subject to the same, without seeing, at the end 
of their career, when age and accident shall have rendered 
them unequal to labor, the certainty, which the other has, 
that he will never want? And has not the British seaman, 
as much as the African, been reduced to this bondage by 
force, in flagrant violation of his own consent, and of his 
natural right in his own person? and with the laborers of 
England generally, does not the moral coercion of want 



subject their will as despotically to that of their employer, 
as the physical constraint does the soldier, the seaman, or 
the slave? But do not mistake me. I am not advocating 
slavery. I am not justifying the wrongs we have com 
mitted on a foreign people, by the example of another na 
tion committing equal wrongs on their own subjects. On 
the contrary, there is nothing I would not sacrifice to a 
practicable plan of abolishing every vestige of this moral 
and political depravity. But I am at present comparing 
the condition and degree of suffering to which oppression 
has reduced the man of one color, with the condition and 
degree of suffering to which oppression has reduced the 
man of another color ; equally condemning both. Now let 
us compute by numbers the sum of happiness of the two 
countries. In England, happiness is the lot of the aristoc 
racy only, and the proportion they bear to the laborers 
and paupers, you know better than I do. Were I to guess 
that they are four in every hundred, then the happiness of 
the nation would be to its misery as one in twenty-five. In 
the United States it is as eight millions to zero, or as all 
to none. But it is said they possess the means of defence, 
and that we do not. How so ? Are we not men ? Yes ; 
but our men are so happy at home that they will not hire 
themselves to be shot at for a shilling a day. Hence we 
can have no standing armies for defence, because we have 
no paupers to furnish the materials. The Greeks and 
Romans had no standing armies, yet they defended them 
selves. The Greeks by their laws, and the Romans by the 
spirit of their people, took care to put into the hands of 
their rulers no such engine of oppression as a standing 
army. Their system was to make every man a soldier, and 
oblige him to repair to the standard of his country when 
ever that was reared. This made them invincible ; and the 
same remedy will make us so. 



To Dr. Thomas Cooper 

MOXTICELLO, October 7, 1814. 

I agree with yours of the 22d, that a professorship of 
Theology should have no place in our institution. But 
we cannot always do what is absolutely best. Those with 
whom we act, entertaining different views, have the power 
and the right of carrying -them into practice. Truth ad 
vances, and error recedes step by step only; and to do to 
our fellow men the most good in our power, we must lead 
where we can, follow where we cannot, and still go with 
them, watching always the favorable moment for helping 
them to another step. Perhaps I should concur with you 
also in excluding the theory (not the practice} of medicine. 
This is the charlatanerie of the body, as the other is of the 
mind. For classical learning I have ever been a zealous 
advocate; and in this, as in his theory of bleeding and 
mercury, I was ever opposed to my friend Rush, whom I 
greatly loved ; but who has done much harm, in the sincerest 
persuasion that he was preserving life and happiness to 
all around him. I have not, however, carried so far as you 
do my ideas of the importance of a hypercritical knowledge 
of the Latin and Greek languages. I have believed it suf 
ficient to possess a substantial understanding of their 



On Banks 

To Albert Gallatin 

MONTICELLO, October 16, 1815. 

We are undone, my dear Sir, if this banking mania 
be not suppressed. Aut Carthago, out Roma delenda 
est. The war, had it proceeded, would have upset our 
government; and a new one, whenever tried, will do it. 
And so it must be while our money, the nerve of war, is 
much or little, real or imaginary, as our bitterest enemies 
choose to make it. Put down the banks, and if this coun 
try could not be carried through the longest war against 
her most powerful enemy, without ever knowing the want 
of a dollar, without dependence on the traitorous classes of 
her citizens, without bearing hard on the resources of the 
people, or loading the public with an indefinite burden of 
debt, I know nothing of my countrymen. Not by any 
novel project, not by any charlatanerie, but by ordinary and 
well-experienced means ; by the total prohibition of all pri 
vate paper at all times, by reasonable taxes in war aided by 
the necessary emissions of public paper of circulating size, 
this bottomed on special taxes, redeemable annually as this 
special tax comes in, and finally within a moderate period 
even with the flood of private paper by which we were 
deluged, would the treasury have ventured its credit in bills 
of circulating size, as of five or ten dollars, etc., they would 
have been greedily received by the people in preference to 
bank paper. But unhappily the towns of America were 
considered as the nation of America, the dispositions of the 
inhabitants of the former as those of the latter, and the 
treasury, for want of confidence in the country, delivered 
itself bound hand and foot to bold and bankrupt advent- 



urers and pretenders to be money-holders., whom it could 
have crushed at any moment. Even the last half-bold, 
half-timid threat of the treasury, showed at once that these 
jugglers were at the feet of government. For it never was, 
and is not, any confidence in their frothy bubbles, but the 
want of all other medium, which induced, or now in vjces, 
the country people to take their paper; and at this raiment, 
when nothing else is to be had, no man will receive it but to 
pass it away instantly, none for distant purposes. V. T e are 
now without any common measure of the value of prop 
erty, and private fortunes are up or down at the will of 
the worst of our citizens. Yet there is no hope of relief 
from the legislatures who have immediate control over this 
subject. As little seems to be known of the principles of 
political economy as if nothing had ever been written or 
practised on the subject, or as was known in old times, when 
the Jews had their rulers under the hammer. It is an evil, 
therefore, which we must make up our minds to meet and 
to endure as those of hurricanes, earthquakes and other 
casualties: let us turn over therefore another leaf. 

On Local Government 

To Joseph C. Cabell 

MONTICELLO, February 2, 1816. 

No, my friend, the way to have good and safe gov 
ernment, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it 
among the many, distributing to every one exactly the 
functions he is competent to. Let the national government 
be intrusted with the defence of the nation, and its foreign 
and federal relations ; the State governments with the civil 
rights, laws, police, and administration of what concerns 



the State generally; the counties with the local concerns of 
the counties, and each ward direct the interests within itself. 
It is by dividing and subdividing these republics from the 
great national one down through all its subordinations, until 
it ends in the administration of every man s farm by him 
self; by placing under every one what his own eye may 
superintend, that all will be done for the best. What has 
destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every govern 
ment which has ever existed under the sun? The general 
izing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body, 
no matter whether of the autocrats of Russia or France, 
or of the aristocrats of a Venetian senate. And I do be 
lieve that if the Almighty has not decreed that man shall 
never be free (and it is a blasphemy to believe it), that 
the secret will be found to be in the making himself the 
depositary of the powers respecting himself, so far as he 
is competent to them, and delegating only what is beyond 
his competence by a synthetical process, to higher and 
higher orders of functionaries, so as to trust fewer and 
fewer powers in proportion as the trustees become more 
and more oligarchical. The elementary republics of the 
wards, the county republics, the State republics, and the 
republic of the Union, would form a gradation of author 
ities, standing each on the basis of law, holding every one 
its delegated share of powers, and constituting truly a sys 
tem of fundamental balances and checks for the govern 
ment. Where every man is a sharer in the direction of his 
ward-republic, or of some of the higher ones, and feels 
that he is a participator in the government of affairs, not 
merely at an election one day in the year, but every day; 
when there shall not be a man in the State who will not 
be a member of some one of its councils, great or small, he 
will let the heart be torn out of his body sooner than his 
power be wrested from him by a Caesar or a Bonaparte. 



How powerfully did we feel the energy of this organization 
in the case of embargo? I felt the foundations of the gov 
ernment shaken under my feet by the New England town 
ships. There was not an individual in their States whose 
body was not thrown with all its momentum into action; 
and although the whole of the other States were known 
to be in favor of the measure, yet the organization of this 
little selfish minority enabled it to overrule the Union. 
What would the unwieldy counties of the Middle., the South, 
and the West do? Call a county meeting, and the drunken 
loungers at and about the court-houses would have collected, 
the distances being too great for the good people and the 
industrious generally to attend. The character of those 
who really met would have been the measure of the weight 
they would have had in the scale of public opinion. As 
Cato, then, concluded every speech with the words, "Car 
thago delenda est," so do I every opinion, with the injunc 
tion, "divide the counties into wards." Begin them only 
for a single purpose; they will soon show for what others 
they are the best instruments. 

On Aiding the South American Colonies of Spain 

To James Monroe 

MONTICELLO, February 4, 1816. 

The ground you have taken with Spain is sound in 
every part. It is the true ground, especially, as to the 
South Americans. When subjects are able to maintain 
themselves in the field, they are then an independent power 
as to all neutral nations, are entitled to their commerce, and 
to protection within their limits. Every kindness which can 
be shown the South Americans, every friendly office and aid 



within the limits of the law of nations, I would extend to 
them, without fearing Spain or her Swiss auxiliaries. For 
this is but an assertion of our own independence. But to 
join in their war, as General Scott proposes, and to which 
even some members of Congress seem to squint, is what we 
ought not to do as yet. On the question ot our interest in 
their independence, were that alone a sufficient motive of 
action, much may be said on both sides. When they are 
free, they will drive every article of our produce from every 
market, by underselling it, and change the condition of our 
existence, forcing us into other habits and pursuits. We 
shall, indeed, have in exchange some commerce with them, 
but in what I know not, for we shall have nothing to offer 
which they cannot raise cheaper; and their separation from 
Spain seals our everlasting peace with her. On the other 
hand, so long as they are dependent, Spain, from her jeal 
ousy, is our natural enemy, and always in either open or 
secret hostility with us. These countries, too, in war, will 
be a powerful weight in her scale, and, in peace, totally 
shut to us. Interest then, on the whole, would wish their 
independence, and justice makes the wish a duty. They 
have a right to be free, and we a right to aid them, as a 
strong man has a right to assist a weak one assailed by 
a robber or murderer. That a war is brewing between us 
and Spain cannot be doubted. When that disposition is 
matured on both sides, and open rupture can no longer be 
deferred, then will be the time for our joining the South 
Americans, and entering into treaties of alliance with them. 
There will then be but one opinion, at home or abroad, that 
we shall be justifiable in choosing to have them with us, 
rather than against us. In the meantime, they will have 
organized regular governments, and perhaps have formed 
themselves into one or more confederacies; more than one 
I hope, as in single mass they would be a very formidable 



neighbor. The geography of their country seems to indi 
cate three: 1. What is north of the Isthmus. 2. What is 
south of it on the Atlantic; and 3. The southern part on 
the Pacific. Jn this form, we might be the balancing power. 

On the Philosophy of Life 

To John Adams 

MONTICELLO, April 8, 1816. 

You ask, if I would agree to live my seventy or rather 
seventy-three years over again? To which I say, yea. I 
think with you, that it is a good world on the whole; that 
it has been framed on a principle of benevolence, and 
more pleasure than pain dealt out to us. There are, indeed, 
(who might say nay) gloomy and hypochondriac minds, in 
habitants of diseased bodies, disgusted with the present, and 
despairing of the future; always counting that the worst 
will happen, because it may happen. To these I say, how 
much pain have cost us the evils which have never hap 
pened ! My temperament is sanguine. I steer my bark 
with Hope in the head, leaving Fear astern. My hopes, 
indeed, sometimes fail; but not oftener than the forebod 
ings of the gloomy. There are, I acknowledge, even in the 
happiest life, some terrible convulsions, heavy set-offs 
against the opposite page of the account. I have often 
wondered for what good end the sensations of grief could 
be intended. All our other passions, within proper bounds, 
have an useful object. And the perfection of the moral 
character is, not in a stoical apathy, so hypocritically 
vaunted, and so untruly too, because impossible, but in a 
just equilibrium of all the passions. I wish the pathol- 
ogists then, would tell us what is the use of grief in the 



economy, and of what good it is the cause, proximate or 

On Educational Qualifications 

To Monsieur Dupont de Nemours 

POPLAR FOREST, April 24, 1816. 

In the Constitution of Spain, as proposed by the late 
Cortes, there was a principle entirely new to me, and 
not noticed in yours, that no person, born after that 
day, should ever acquire the rights of citizenship until he 
could read and write. It is impossible sufficiently to esti 
mate the wisdom of this provision. Of all those which have 
been thought of for securing fidelity in the administration 
of the government, constant ralliance to the principles of 
the Constitution, and progressive amendments with the pro 
gressive advances of the human mind, or changes in hu 
man affairs, it is the most effectual. Enlighten the people 
generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind 
will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day. Although 
I do not, with some enthusiasts, believe that the human con 
dition will ever advance to such a state of perfection as 
that there shall no longer be pain or vice in the world, 
yet I believe it susceptible of much improvement, and most 
of all, in matters of government and religion; and that the 
diffusion of knowledge among the people is to be the in 
strument by which it is to be effected. 


On the True Republic 

To John Taylor 

MONTICELLO, May 28, 1816. 

It must be acknowledged, that the term republic is of 
very vague application in every language. Witness the 
self-styled republics of Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, 
Venice, Poland. Were I to assign to this term a pre 
cise and definite idea, I would say, purely and simply, 
it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting di 
rectly and personally, according to rules established by the 
majority; and that every other government is more or less 
republican in proportion, as it has in its composition more 
or less of this ingredient of the direct action of the citizens. 
Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow 
limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be 
practicable beyond the extent of a New England township. 
The first shade from this pure element, which, like that of 
pure vital air, cannot sustain life of itself, would be where 
the powers of the government, being divided, should be ex 
ercised each by representatives chosen either pro hac vice, 
or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of 
expressing the will of their constituents. This I should 
consider as the nearest approach to a pure republic, which 
is practicable on a large scale of country or population. 
And we have examples of it in some of our State Constitu 
tions, which, if not poisoned by priest-craft, would prove its 
excellence over all mixtures with other elements; and, with 
only equal doses of poison, would still be the best. Other 
shades of republicanism may be found in other forms of 
government, where the executive, judiciary and legislative 
functions, and the different branches of the latter, are 
chosen by the people more or less directly, for longer terms 



of years, or for life, or made hereditary ; or where there are 
mixtures of authorities, some dependent on, and others in 
dependent of the people. The further the departure from 
direct and constant control by the citizens, the less has the 
government of the ingredient of republicanism; evidently 
none where the authorities are hereditary, as in France, 
Venice, etc., or self-chosen, as in Holland; and little, where 
for life, in proportion as the life continues in being after 
the act of election. 

The purest republican feature in the government of our 
own State, is the House of Representatives. The Senate is 
equally so the first year, less the second, and so on. The 
Executive still less, because not chosen by the people di 
rectly. The Judiciary seriously anti-republican, because 
for life; and the national arm wielded, as you observe, by 
military leaders, irresponsible but to themselves. Add to 
this the vicious constitution of our county courts (to whom 
the justice, the executive administration, the taxation, police, 
the military appointments of the county, and nearly all our 
daily concerns are confided), self-appointed, self -continued, 
holding their authorities for life, and with an impossibility 
of breaking in on the perpetual succession of any faction 
once possessed of the bench. They are in truth, the execu 
tive, the j udiciary, and the military of their respective coun 
ties, and the sum of the counties makes the State. And add, 
also, that one-half of our brethren who fight and pay taxes, 
are excluded, like Helots, from the rights of representation, 
as if society were instituted for the soil, and not for the 
men inhabiting it; or one-half of these could dispose of the 
rights and the will of the other half, without their consent. 

"What constitutes a State? 
Not high-raised battlements, or labor d mound, 

Thick wall, or moated gate ; 

Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crown d ; 


No : men, high-minded men ; 
Men, who their duties know ; 

But know their rights ; and knowing, dare maintain. 
These constitute a S^ate." 

In the General Government, the House of Representa 
tives is mainly republican; the Senate scarcely so at all, as 
not elected by the people directly, and so long secured even 
against those who do elect them; the Executive more re 
publican than the Senate, from its shorter term, its election 
by the people, in practice, (for they vote for A only on an 
assurance that he will vote for B), and because, in practice 
also, a principle of rotation seems to be in a course of estab 
lishment; the judiciary independent of the nation, their co 
ercion by impeachment being found nugatory. 

If, then, the control of the people over the organs of 
their government be the measure of its republicanism, and 
I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that 
our governments have much less of republicanism than 
ought to have been expected; in other words, that the peo 
ple have less regular control over their agents, than their 
rights and their interests require. And this I ascribe, not 
to any want of republican dispositions in those who formed 
these Constitutions, but to a submission of true principle 
to European authorities, to speculators on government, 
whose fears of the people have been inspired by the popu 
lace of their own great cities, and were unjustly entertained 
against the independent, the happy, and therefore orderly 
citizens of the United States. Much I apprehend that the 
golden moment is past for reforming these heresies. The 
functionaries of public power rarely strengthen in their 
dispositions to abridge it, and an unorganized call for 
timely amendment is not likely to prevail against an or 
ganized opposition to it. We are always told that things 
are going on well; why change them? "Chi sta bene, non 



si muove," said the Italian, "let him who stands well, stand 
still." This is true; and I verily believe they would go 
on well with us under an absolute monarch, while our pres 
ent character remains, of order, industry and love of peace, 
and restrained, as he would be, by the proper spirit of the 
people. But it is while it remains such, we should provide 
against the consequences of its deterioration. And let us 
rest in the hope that it will yet be done, and spare our 
selves the pain of evils which may never happen. 

On this view of the import of the term republic, instead 
of saying, as has been said, "that it may mean anything 
or nothing," we may say with truth and meaning, that gov 
ernments are more or less republican, as they have more or 
less of the element of popular election and control in their 
composition ; and believing, as I do, that the mass of the 
citizens io the safest depositary of their own rights and 
especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the 
people, are less injurious than those from the egoism of 
their agents, I am a friend to that composition of govern 
ment which has in it the most of this ingredient. And I 
sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are 
more dangerous than standing armies; and that the prin 
ciple of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the 
name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large 

Concerning Ms Religion 

To Mrs. M. Harrison Smith 

MONTICELLO, August 6, 181 6. 

I have ever thought religion a concern purely between 
our God and our consciences, for which we were ac- 



countable to Him, and not to the priests. I never told 
my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never 
attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change an 
other s creed. I have ever judged of the religion of others 
by their lives, and by this test, my dear Madam, I have 
been satisfied yours must be an excellent one, to have pro 
duced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For 
it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion 
must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. 

On Slavery 

To Dr. Thomas Humphreys 

MONTICELLO, February 8, 1817. 

Dear Sir: Your favor of January 2d did not come 
to my hands until the 5th instant. I concur entirely in 
your leading principles of gradual emancipation, of estab 
lishment on the coast of Africa, and the patronage of our 
nation until the emigrants shall be able to protect them 
selves. The subordinate details might be easily arranged. 
But the bare proposition of purchase by the United States 
generally, would excite infinite indignation in all the 
States north of Maryland. The sacrifice must fall on the 
States alone which hold them ; and the difficult question will 
be how to lessen this so as to reconcile our fellow citizens 
to it. Personally I am ready and desirous to make any 
sacrifice which shall insure their gradual but complete re 
tirement from the State, and effectually, at the same time, 
establish them elsewhere in freedom and safety. But I 
have not perceived the growth of this disposition in the 
rising generation, of which I once had sanguine hopes. No 
symptoms inform me that it will take place in my day. 



I leave it, therefore, to time, and not at all without hope 
that the day will come, equally desirable and welcome to us 
as to them. Perhaps the proposition now on the carpet at 
Washington to provide an establishment on the coast of 
Africa for voluntary emigrations of people of color, may 
be the corner stone of this future edifice. Praying for its 
completion as early as may most promote the good of all, 
I salute you with great esteem and respect. 

On Internal Improvements 

To Albert Gallatin 

MONTICELLO, June 16, 1817. 

You will have learned that an act for internal im 
provement, after passing both Houses, was negatived by 
the President. The act was founded, avowedly, on the prin 
ciple that the phrase in the Constitution which authorizes 
Congress "to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for 
the general welfare/ was an extension of the powers spe 
cifically enumerated to whatever would promote the general 
welfare; and this, you know, was the federal doctrine. 
Whereas, our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the 
only landmark which now divides the federalists from the 
republicans, that Congress had not unlimited powers to pro 
vide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those 
specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant 
they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of 
the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant 
they should raise money for purposes which the enumera 
tion did not place under their action ; consequently, that the 
specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes 
for which they may raise money. J think the passage 



and rejection of this bill a fortunate incident. Every State 
will certainly concede the power; and this will be a national 
confirmation of the grounds of appeal to them, and will 
settle forever the meaning of this phrase, which, by a mere 
grammatical quibble, has countenanced the General Gov 
ernment in a claim of universal power. For in the phrase, 
"to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general 
welfare," it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two 
last infinitives are governed by the first or are distinct and 
co-ordinate powers ; a question unequivocally decided by the 
exact definition of powers immediately following. It is 
fortunate for another reason, as the States, in conceding 
the power, will modify it, either by requiring the federal 
ratio of expense in each State, or otherwise, so as to secure 
us against its partial exercise. Without this caution, in 
trigue, negotiation, and the barter of votes might become 
as habitual in Congress, as they are in those Legislatures 
which have the appointment of officers, and which, with us, 
is called "logging," the term of the farmers for their ex 
changes of aid in rolling together the logs of their newly- 
cleared grounds. 

On the Tax on Wine 

To M. de Neuville 

MONTICELLO, December 13, 1818. 

I rejoice, as a moralist, at the prospect of a reduction 
of the duties on wine, by our national legislature. It is 
an error to view a tax on that liquor as merely a tax on 
the rich. It is a prohibition of its use to the middling 
class of our citizens, and a condemnation of them to the 
poison of whiskey, which is desolating their houses. No 



nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober, 
where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the 
common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the 
bane of whiskey. Fix but the duty at the rate of other 
merchandise, and we can drink wine here as cheap as we 
do grog; and who will not prefer it? Its extended use will 
carry health and comfort to a much enlarged circle. Every 
one in easy circumstances (as the bulk of our citizens are) 
will prefer it to the poison to which they are now driven 
by their government. And the treasury itself will find that 
a penny apiece from a dozen, is more than a groat from a 
single one. 

Personal Regimen 

To Dr. Vine Utley 

MONTICELLO, March 21, 1819- 

Sir: The request of the history of my physical habits 
would have puzzled me not a little, had it not been for 
the model with which you accompanied it, of Dr. Rush s 
answer to a similar inquiry. I live so much like other peo 
ple, that I might refer to ordinary life as the history of 
my own. Like my friend the Doctor, I have lived tem 
perately, eating little animal food, and that not as an ali 
ment, so much as a condiment for the vegetables, which 
constitute my principal diet. I double however, the Doc 
tor s glass and a half of wine, and even treble it with a 
friend; but halve its effects by drinking the weak wines 
only. The ardent wines I cannot drink, nor do I use ardent 
spirits in any form. Malt liquors and cider are my table 
drinks, and my breakfast, like that also of my friend, is 
of tea and coffee. I have been blessed with organs of di- 



gestion which accept and concoct, without ever murmuring,, 
whatever the palate chooses to consign to them, and I have 
not yet lost a tooth by age. I was a hard student until 
I entered on the business of life, the duties of which leave 
no idle time to those disposed to fulfil them; and now, 
retired, and at the age of seventy-six, I am again a hard 
student. Indeed, my fondness for reading and study re 
volts me from the drudgery of letter- writing. And a stiff 
wrist, the consequence of an early dislocation, makes writ 
ing both slow and painful. I am not so regular in my sleep 
as the Doctor says he was, devoting to it from five to eight 
hours, according as my company or the book I am reading 
interests me; and I never go to bed without an hour, or half 
hour s previous reading of something moral whereon to 
ruminate in the intervals of sleep. But whether I retire to 
bed early or late, I rise with the sun. I use spectacles at 
night, but not necessarily in the day, unless in reading small 
print. My hearing is distinct in particular conversation, 
but confused when several voices cross each other, which 
unfits me for the society of the table. I have been more 
fortunate than my friend in the article of health. So free 
from catarrhs that I have not had one, (in the breast, I 
mean) on an average of eight or ten years through life. 
I ascribe this exemption partly to the habit of bathing my 
feet in cold water every morning, for sixty years past. A 
fever of more than twenty-four hours I have not had above 
two or three times in my life. A periodical headache has 
afflicted me occasionally, once, perhaps, in six or eight years, 
for two or three weeks at a time, which seems now to have 
left me; and except on a late occasion of indisposition, I 
enjoy good health; too feeble, indeed, to walk much, but 
riding without fatigue six or eight miles a day, and some 
times thirty or forty. I may end these egotisms, therefore, 
as I began, by saying that my life has been so much like 



that of other people, that I might say with Horace, to every 
one "nomine mutato, narratur fabula de te." I must not 
end, however, without due thanks for the kind sentiments 
of regard you are so good as to express toward myself; 
and with my acknowledgments for these, be pleased to 
accept the assurances of my respect and esteem. 

On the Supreme Court 

To Judge Spencer Roane 

POPLAR FOREST, September 6, 1819- 

Dear Sir: In denying the right they [the judiciary] 
usurp of exclusively explaining the Constitution, I go 
further than you do, if I understand rightly your quotation 
from the Federalist, of an opinion that "the judiciary is the 
last resort in relation to the other departments of the gov 
ernment, but not in relation to the rights of the parties 
to the compact under which the judiciary is derived." If 
this opinion be sound, then indeed is our Constitution a com 
plete felo de se. For intending to establish three depart 
ments, co-ordinate and independent, that they might check 
and balance one another, it has given, according to this 
opinion, to one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules 
for the government of the others, and to that one, too, which 
is unelected by, and independent of the nation. For ex 
perience has already shown that the impeachment it has 
provided is not even a scare-crow; that such opinions as the 
one you combat, sent cautiously out, as you observe also, 
by detachment, not belonging to the case often, but sought 
for out of it, as if to rally the public opinion beforehand 
to their views, and to indicate the line they are to walk in, 
have been so quietly passed over as never to have excited. 



Animadversion, even in a speech of any one of the body 
intrusted with impeachment. The Constitution, on this 
hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the 
judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form 
they please. It should be remembered, as an axiom of eter 
nal truth in politics, chat whatever power in any government 
is independent, is absolute also; in theory only, at first, 
while the spirit of the people is up, but in practice, as fast 
as that relaxes. Independence can be trusted nowhere but 
with the people in mass. They are inherently independent 
of all but moral law. My construction of the Constitution 
is very different from that you quote. It is that each de 
partment is truly independent of the others, and has an 
equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the 
Constitution in the cases submitted to its action; and espe 
cially, where it is to act ultimately and without appeal. 

On the Possibility of Secession 

To John Holmes 

MONTICELLO, April 22, 1820. 

I thank you, dear sir, for the copy you have been so kind 
as to send me of the letter to your constituents on the Mis 
souri question. It is a perfect justification to them. I had 
for a long time ceased to read newspapers, or pay any 
attention to public affairs, confident they were in good 
hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the 
shore from which I am not distant. But this momentous 
question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled 
me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the 
Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this 
is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical 



line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and politi 
cal, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of 
men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will 
mark it deeper and deeper. I can say, with conscious truth, 
that there is not a man on earth who would sacrifice more 
than I would to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in 
any practicable way. The cession of that kind of prop 
erty, for so it is misnamed, is a bagatelle which would not 
cost me a second thought, if, in that way, a general eman 
cipation and expatriation could be effected; and, gradually, 
and with due sacrifices, I think it might be. But as it is, 
we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, 
nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self- 
preservation in the other. Of one thing I am certain, that 
as the passage of slaves from one State to another, would 
not make a slave of a single human being who would not 
be so without it, so their diffusion over a greater surface 
would make them individually happier, and proportionally 
facilitate the accomplishment of their emancipation, by 
dividing the burden on a greater number of coadjutors. An 
abstinence too, from this act of power, would remove the 
jealousy excited by the undertaking of Congress to regulate 
the condition of the different descriptions of men compos 
ing a State. This certainly is the exclusive right of every 
State, which nothing in the Constitution has taken from 
them and given to the General Government. Could Con 
gress, for example, say, that the non-freemen of Connecti 
cut shall be freemen, or that they shall not emigrate into 
any other State? 

I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the use 
less sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to 
acquire self-government and happiness to their country, 
is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions 
of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that 



I live not to weep over it. If they would but dispassion 
ately weigh the blessings they will throw away, against 
an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union 
than by scission, they would pause before they would per 
petrate this act of suicide on themselves, and of treason 
against the hopes of the world. To yourself, as the faith 
ful advocate of the Union, I tender the offering of my high 
esteem and respect. 

On Religion 

To William Short 

MONTICELLO, August 4, 1820. 

Dear Sir: I owe you a letter for your favor of June the 
29th, which was received in due time; and there being no 
subject of the day, of particular interest, I will make this 
a supplement to mine of April the 13th. My aim in that 
was to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions of 
His pseudo-followers, which have exposed Him to the in 
ference of being an impostor. For if we could believe that 
He really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the 
charlatanisms which His biographers father on Him, and 
admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations 
of the fathers of the earl} r , and fanatics of the latter ages, 
the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, 
that He was an impostor. I give no credit to their falsifica 
tions of His actions and doctrines, and to rescue His char 
acter, the postulate in my letter asked only what is granted 
in reading every other historian. . . . This free exercise 
of reason is all I ask for the vindication of the char 
acter of Jesus. We find in the writings of His biographers 
matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a ground-work 



of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, 
fanaticisms, and fabrications. Intermixed with these, 
again, are sublime ideas of the Supreme Being, aphorisms, 
and precepts of the purest morality and benevolence, sanc 
tioned by a life of humility, innocence, and simplicity of 
manners, neglect of riches, absence of worldly ambition 
and honors, with an eloquence and persuasiveness which 
have not been surpassed. These could not be inventions 
of the grovelling authors who relate them. They are far 
beyond the powers of their feeble minds. They show that 
there was a character, the subject of their history, whose 
splendid conceptions were above all suspicion of being in 
terpolations from their hands. Can we be at a loss in 
separating such materials, and ascribing each to its genuine 
author? The difference is obvious to the eye and to the 
understanding, and we may read as we run to each his 
part; and I will venture to affirm, that he who, as I have 
done, will undertake to winnow this grain from the chaff, 
will find it not to require a moment s consideration. The 
parts fall asunder of themselves, as would those of an 
image of metal and clay. 

There are, I acknowledge, passages not free from ob 
jection, which we may, with probability, ascribe to Jesus 
Himself; but claiming indulgence from the circumstances 
under which He acted. His object was the reformation 
of some articles in the religion of the Jews, as taught by 
Moses. That sect had presented for the object of their 
worship, a Being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, 
capricious, and unjust. Jesus, taking for His type the 
best qualities of the human head and heart, wisdom, 
justice, goodness, and adding to them power, ascribed all 
of these, but in infinite perfection, to the Supreme Being, 
and formed Him really worthy of their adoration. Moses 
had either not believed in a future state of existence, or 



liad not thought it essential to be explicitly taught to his 
people. Jesus inculcated that doctrine with emphasis and 
precision. Moses had bound the Jews to many idle cere 
monies, mummeries, and observances, of no effect toward 
producing the social utilities which constitute the essence of 
virtue; Jesus exposed their futility and insignificance. The 
one instilled into his people the most anti-social spirit tow 
ard other nations ; the other preached philanthropy and 
universal charity and benevolence. The office of reformer 
of the superstitions of a nation, is ever dangerous. Jesus 
had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion; 
and a step to right or left might place Him within the 
grasp of the priests of the superstition, a bloodthirsty 
race, as cruel and remorseless as the Being whom they 
represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and 
of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. They were con 
stantly laying snares, too, to entangle Him in the web of 
the law. He was justifiable, therefore, in avoiding these 
by evasions, by sophisms, by misconstructions and misap 
plications of scraps of the prophets, and in defending 
Himself with these their own weapons, as sufficient, ad 
homines, at least. That Jesus did not mean to impose 
Himself on mankind as the Son of God, physically speak 
ing, I have been convinced by the writings of men more 
learned than myself in that lore. But that He might con 
scientiously believe himself inspired from above, is very 
possible. The whole religion of the Jew, inculcated on 
Him from His infancy, was founded in the belief of divine 
inspiration. The fumes of the most disordered imagina 
tions were recorded in their religious code, as special com 
munications of the Deity; and as it could not but happen 
that, in the course of ages, events would now and then 
turn up to which some of these vague rhapsodies might 
be accommodated by the aid of allegories, figures, types, 



and other tricks upon words, they have not only preserved 
their credit with the Jews of all subsequent times, but 
are the foundation of much of the religions of those who 
have schismatized from them. Elevated by the enthusiasm 
of a warm and pure heart, conscious of the high strains 
of an eloquence which had not been taught Him, He might 
readily mistake the coruscations of His own fine genius 
for inspirations of a higher order. This belief carried, 
therefore, no more personal imputation, than the belief of 
Socrates, that himself was under the care and admonitions 
of a guardian Daemon. And how many of our wisest men 
still believe in the reality of these inspirations, while per 
fectly sane on all other subjects. Excusing, therefore, on 
these considerations, those passages in the Gospels which 
seem to bear marks of weakness in Jesus, ascribing to Him 
what alone is consistent with the great and pure character 
of which the same writings furnish proofs, and to their 
proper authors their own trivialities and imbecilities, I 
think myself authorized to conclude the purity and distinc 
tion of His character, in opposition to the impostures which 
those authors would fix upon Him; and that the postulate 
of my former letter is no more than is granted in all other 
historical works. 

On the Spoils System 

To James Madison 

POPLAR FOREST, November 29, 1820. 
Dear Sir: The enclosed letter ... is a sample of the 
effects we may expect from the late mischievous law vacat 
ing every four years nearly all the executive offices of the 
government. It saps the constitutional and salutary func- 



tions of the President, and introduces a principle of in 
trigue and corruption, which will soon leaven the mass, not 
only of Senators, but of citizens. It is more baneful than 
the attempt which failed in the beginning of the govern 
ment, to make all officers irremovable but with the consent 
of the Senate. This places, every four years, all appoint 
ments under their power, and even obliges them to act on 
every one nomination. It will keep in constant excitement 
all the hungry cormorants for office, render them, as well 
as those in place, sycophants to their Senators, engage 
these in eternal intrigue to turn out one and put in an 
other, in cabals to swap work; and make of them what all 
executive directories become, mere sinks of corruption and 
faction. This must have been one of the midnight signa 
tures of the President, when he had not time to consider, 
or even to read the law; and the more fatal as being ir- 
repealable but with the consent of the Senate, which will 
never be obtained. 

On the Kentucky Resolutions 

To Mr. Nicholas 

MONTICELLO, December 11, 1821. 

Dear Sir: Your letter of December the 19th places me 
under a dilemma, which I cannot solve but by an exposi 
tion of the naked truth. I would have wished this rather 
to have remained as hitherto, without inquiry; but your 
inquiries have a right to be answered. I will do it as 
exactly as the great lapse of time and a waning memory 
will enable me. I may misremember indifferent circum 
stances, but can be right in substance. 

At the time when the republicans of our country were 


so much alarmed at the proceedings of the federal ascend 
ancy in Congress, in the executh e and the judiciary de 
partments, it became a matter of serious consideration how 
head could be made against their enterprises on the Con 
stitution. The leading republicans in Congress found 
themselves of no use there, browbeaten, as they were, by 
a bold and overwhelming majority. They concluded to 
retire from that field, take a stand in the State legisla 
tures, and endeavor there to arrest their progress. The 
alien and sedition laws furnished the particular occasion. 
The sympathy between Virginia and Kentucky was more 
cordial, and more intimately confidential, than between any 
other two States of republican policy. Mr. Madison came 
into the Virginia legislature. I was then in the Vice- 
Presidency, and could not leave my station. But your 
father, Colonel W. C. Nicholas, and myself happening to 
be together, the engaging the co-operation of Kentucky in 
an energetic protestation against the constitutionality of 
those laws, became a subject of consultation. Those gen 
tlemen pressed me strongly to sketch resolutions for that 
purpose, your father undertaking to introduce them to that 
legislature, with a solemn assurance, which I strictly re 
quired, that it should not be known from what quarter they 
came. I drew and delivered them to him, and in keej)ing 
their origin secret, he fulfilled his pledge of honor. Some 
years after this, Colonel Nicholas asked me if I would have 
any objection to its being known that I had drawn them. 
I pointedly enjoined that it should not. Whether he had 
unguardedly intimated it before to any one, I know not; 
but I afterwards observed in the papers repeated imputa 
tions of them to me; on which, as has been my practice 
on all occasions of imputation, I have observed entire si 
lence. The question, indeed, has never before been put to 
me, nor should I answer it to any other than yourself; see- 

271 * 


ing no good end to be proposed by it, and the desire of 
tranquillity inducing witL me a wish to be withdrawn from 
public notice. Your father s zeal and talents were too 
well known, to derive any additional distinction from the 
penning these resolutions. That circumstance, surely, was 
of far less merit than the proposing and carrying them 
through the legislature of his State. The only fact in 
this statement, on which my memory is not distinct, is the 
time and occasion of the consultation with your father and 
Colonel Nicholas. It took place here, I know ; but whether 
any other person was present, or communicated with, is 
my doubt. I think Mr. Madison was cither with us, or 
consulted, but my memory is uncertain as to minute details. 

On ilic Annexation of Cuba 

To the President of the United States 
(James Monroe) 

MONTICELLO, June 23, 1823. 

Dear Sir: I have been lately visited by a Mr. Miralla, 
. . . resident in Cuba for the last seven or eight years ; 
a person of intelligence, of much information, and frankly 
communicative. I believe, indeed, he is known to you. 
I availed myself of the opportunity of learning what was 
the state of public sentiment in Cuba as to their future 
course. He says they would be satisfied to remain as they 
are; but all are sensible that that cannot be; that whenever 
circumstances shall render a separation from Spain neces 
sary, a perfect independence would be their choice, pro 
vided they could see a certainty of protection ; but that, 
without that prospect, they would be divided in opinion be 
tween an incorporation with Mexico, and with the United 



States Colombia being too remote for prompt support. 
The considerations in favor of Mexico are that then Havana 
would be the emporium for all the produce of that im 
mense and wealthy country, and, of course, the medium of 
all its commerce; that having no ports on its eastern coast, 
Cuba would become the depot of its naval stores and 
strength, and, in effect, would, in a great measure, have 
the sinews of the government in its hands. That in favor 
of the United States is the fact that three-fourths of the 
exportations from Havana come to the United States, that 
they are a settled government, the power which can most 
promptly succor them, rising to an eminence promising 
future security; and of which they would make a member 
of the sovereignty, while as to England, they would be 
only a colony, subordinated to her interest, and that there 
is not a man in the island who would not resist her to the 
bitterest extremity. Of this last sentiment I had not the 
least idea at the date of my late letters to you. I had 
supposed an English interest there quite as strong as that 
of the United States, and therefore, that, to avoid war, 
and keep the island open to our own commerce, it would 
be best to join that power in mutually guaranteeing its in 
dependence. But if there is no danger of its falling into 
the possession of England, I must retract an opinion 
founded on an error of fact. We are surely under no 
obligation to give her, gratis, an interest which she has not ; 
and the whole inhabitants being averse to her, and the 
climate mortal to strangers, its continued military occupa 
tion by her would be impracticable. It is better then to 
lie still in readiness to receive that interesting incorporation 
when solicited by herself. For, certainly, her addition to 
our confederacy is exactly what is wanting to round our 
power as a nation to the point of its utmost interest. 


On Religion 

To John Adams 

MONTICELLO, April 11, 1823. 

Dear Sir: The wishes expressed in your last favor, that 
I may continue in life and health until I become a Cal- 
vinist, at least in his exclamation of "Mon Dieu! jusqu a 
quand!" would make me immortal. I can never join Cal 
vin in addressing his God. He was indeed an atheist, 
which I can never be; or rather his religion was daemonism. 
If ever man worshipped a false God he did. The Being 
described in his five points, is not the God whom you and 
I acknowledge and adore, the Creator and benevolent Gov 
ernor of the world ; but a daemon of malignant spirit. It 
would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than 
to blaspheme Him by the atrocious attributes of Calvin. 
Indeed, I think that every Christian sect gives a great 
handle to atheism by their general dogma, that, without a 
revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being 
of a God. . . . The truth is, that the greatest enemies 
to the doctrines of Jesus are those, calling themselves the 
expositors of them, who have perverted them for the struct 
ure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and 
without any foundation in His genuine words. And the 
day will come, when the mystical generation of Jesus, by 
the Supreme Being as His Father, in the womb of a virgin, 
will be classed with the fable of the generation of Mi 
nerva, in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the 
dawn of reason, and freedom of thought in these United 
States, will do away all this artificial scaffolding, and re 
store to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this the 
most venerated Reformer of human errors. 



So much for your quotation of Calvin s "A/on Dieu! 
jusqu a quand!" in which, when addressed to the God of 
Jesus, and our God, I join you cordially, and await His 
time and will with more readiness than reluctance. May 
we meet there again, in Congress, with our ancient col 
leagues, and receive with them the seal of approbation, 
"Well done, good and faithful servants." 

On Home and Foreign Missions 

To Michael Megear 

MONTICELLO, May 29, 1823. 

I thank you, Sir, for the copy of the letters of Paul and 
Amicus, which you have been so kind as to send me, and 
shall learn from them with satisfaction the peculiar tenets 
of the Friends, and particularly their opinions on the in 
comprehensibilities (otherwise called the mysteries) of the 
Trinity. I think with them on many points, and especially 
on missionary and Bible societies. While we have so many 
around us, within the same social pale, who need instruc 
tion and assistance, why carry to a distance, and to 
strangers what our own neighbors need ? It is a duty cer 
tainly to give our sparings to those who want; but to see 
also that they are faithfully distributed, and duly appor 
tioned to the respective wants of those receivers. And why 
give through agents whom we know not, to persons whom 
we know not, and in countries from which we get no ac 
count, when we can do it at short hand, to objects under 
our eye, through agents we know, and to supply wants we 
see? I do not know that it is a duty to disturb by mis 
sionaries the religion and peace of other countries, who 
may think themselves bound to extinguish by fire and fagot 



the heresies to which we give the name of conversions, and 
quote our own example for it. Were the Pope, or his 
holy allies, to send in mission to us some thousands of 
Jesuit priests to convert us to their orthodoxy, I suspect 
that we should deem and treat it as a national aggression 
on our peace and faith. I salute you in the spirit of peace 
and good will. 

On the Monroe Doctrine 

To the President of the United States 
(James Monroe^) 

MONTICELLO, October 24, 1823. 

Dear Sir: The question presented by the letters you 
have sent me, is the most momentous which has ever been 
offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. 
That made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the 
course which we are to steer through the ocean of time 
opening on us. And never could we embark on it under 
circumstances more auspicious. Our first and fundamental 
maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils 
of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to inter 
meddle with cis-atlantic affairs. America, North and South, 
has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and 
peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a sys 
tem of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. 
While the last is laboring to become the domicile of despot 
ism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere 
that of freedom. One nation, most of all, could disturb 
us in this pursuit; she now offers to lead, aid, and accom 
pany us in it. By acceding to her proposition, we detach 
her from the bands, bring her mighty weight into the scale 



of free government, and emancipate a continent at one 
stroke, which might otherwise linger long in doubt and 
difficulty. Great Britain is the nation which can do us the 
most harm of any one, or all on earth; and with her on 
our side we need not fear the whole world. With her then, 
we should most sedulously cherish a cordial friendship; 
and nothing would tend more to knit our affections than 
to be fighting once more, side by side, in the same cause. 
Not that I would purchase even her amity at the price of 
taking part in her wars. But the war in which the present 
proposition might engage us, should that .be its conse 
quence, is not her war, but ours. Its object is to intro 
duce and establish the American system, of keeping out 
of our land all foreign powers, of never permitting those 
of Europe to intermeddle with the affairs of our nations. 
It is to maintain our own principle, not to depart from 
it. And if, to facilitate this, we can effect a division in the 
body of the European powers, and draw over to our side 
its most powerful member, surely we should do it. But I 
am clearly of Mr. Canning s opinion, that it will prevent 
instead of provoking war. With Great Britain withdrawn 
from their scale and shifted into that of our two continents, 
all Europe combined would not undertake such a war. For 
how would they propose to get at either enemy without 
superior fleets? Nor is the occasion to be slighted which 
this proposition offers, of declaring our protest against the 
atrocious violations of the rights of nations, by the inter 
ference of any one in the internal affairs of another, so 
flagitiously begun by Bonaparte, and now continued by the 
equally lawless Alliance, calling itself Holy. 

But we have first to ask ourselves a question. Do we 
wish to acquire to our own confederacy any one or more 
of the Spanish provinces? I candidly confess, that I have 
ever looked on Cuba as the most interesting addition which 



could ever be made to our system of States. The control 
which, with Florida Point, this island would give us over 
the Gulf of Mexico, and the countries and isthmus border 
ing on it, as well as all those whose waters flow into it, 
would fill up the measure of our political well-being. Yet, 
as I am sensible that this can never be obtained, even with 
her own consent, but by war; and its independence, which 
is our second interest (and especially its independence of 
England), can be secured without it, I have no hesitation 
in abandoning my first wish to future chances, and accept 
ing its independence, with peace and the friendship of 
England, rather than its association, at the expense of war 
and her enmity. 

I could honestly, therefore, join in the declaration pro 
posed, that we aim not at the acquisition of any of those 
possessions, that we will not stand in the way of any 
amicable arrangement between them and the Mother coun 
try ; but that we will oppose, with all our means, the 
forcible interposition of any other power, as auxiliary, sti 
pendiary, or under any other form or pretext, and most 
especially, their transfer to any power by conquest, cession, 
or acquisition in any other way. I should think it, there 
fore, advisable, that the Executive should encourage the 
British government to a continuance in the dispositions 
expressed in these letters, by an assurance of his concur 
rence with them as far as his authority goes; and that 
as it may lead to war, the declaration of which requires 
an act of Congress, the case shall be laid before them 
for consideration at their first meeting, and under the rea 
sonable aspect in which it is seen by himself. 


On Amendments to the Constitution 

To Robert J. Garnett 

MONTICELLO, February 14, 1824. 

Dear Sir: I have to thank you for the copy of Colonel 
Taylor s "New Views of the Constitution," and shall read 
them with the satisfaction and edification which I have ever 
derived from whatever he has written. But I fear it is 
the voice of one crying in the wilderness. Those who 
formerly usurped the name of federalists, which, in fact, 
they never were, have now openly abandoned it, and are 
as openly marching by the road of construction, in a direct 
line to that consolidation which was always their real 
object. They, almost to a man, are in possession of one 
branch of the government, and appear to be very strong 
in yours. The three great questions of amendment now 
before you, will give the measure of their strength. I 
mean, 1st, the limitation of the term of Presidential 
service; 2d, the placing the choice of President effectually 
in the hands of the people; 3d, the giving to Congress the 
power of internal improvement, on condition that each 
State s federal proportion of the moneys so expended, shall 
be employed within the State. The friends of consolidation 
would rather take these powers by construction than ac 
cept them by direct investiture from the States. Yet, as to 
internal improvement particularly, there is probably not a 
State in the Union which would not grant the power on 
the condition proposed, or which would grant it without 

The best general key for the solution of questions of 
power between our governments is the fact that "every 
foreign and federal power is given to the federal govern- 



ment, and to the States every power purely domestic." 
I recollect but one instance of control vested in the federal, 
over the State authorities, in a matter purely domestic, 
which is that of metallic tenders. The federal is, in truth, 
our foreign government, which department alone is taken 
from the sovereignty of the separate States. 

The real friends of the Constitution in its federal form, 
if they wish it to be immortal, should be attentive, by 
amendments, to make it keep pace with the advance of 
the age in science and experience. Instead of this, the 
European governments have resisted reformation, until the 
people, seeing no other resource, undertake it themselves 
by force, their only weapon, and work it out through blood, 
desolation and long-continued anarchy. Here it will be by 
large fragments breaking off, and refusing re-union but on 
condition of amendment, or perhaps permanently. If I 
can see these three great amendments prevail, I shall con 
sider it as a renewed extension of the term of our lease, 
shall live in more confidence, and die in more hope. And 
I do trust that the republican mass, which Colonel Taylor 
justly says is the real federal one, is still strong enough 
to carry these truly federo-republican amendments. With 
my prayers for the issue, accept my friendly and respect 
ful salutations. 

Concerning Parti/ Names and Purposes 

To William Short 

MONTICELLO, January 8, 1825. 

He [Harper] takes great pains to prove, for instance, 
that Hamilton was no monarchist, by exaggerating his own 
intimacy with him, and the impossibility, if he was so, that 



he should not, at some time, have betrayed it to him. This 
may pass with uninformed readers, but not with those who 
have had it from Hamilton s own mouth. I am one of 
those, and but one of many. At my own table, in presence 
of Mr. Adams, Knox, Randolph, and myself, in a dis 
pute between Mr. Adams and himself, he avowed his 
preference of monarchy over every other government, 
and his opinion that the English was the most perfect 
model of government ever devised by the wit of man, Mr. 
Adams agreeing "if its corruptions were done away." 
While Hamilton insisted that "with these corruptions it was 
perfect and without them it would be an impracticable 
government." Can any one read Mr. Adams s defence of 
the American Constitutions without seeing that he was a 
monarchist? And J. Q. Adams, the son, was more explicit 
than the father, in his answer to Paine s "Rights of Man." 
So much for leaders. Their followers were divided. Some 
went the same lengths; others, and I believe the greater 
part, only wished a stronger Executive. 

When I arrived at New York in 1790, to take a part in 
the administration, being fresh from the French Revolu 
tion, while in its first and pure stage, and consequently 
somewhat whetted up in my own republican principles, 
I found a state of things, in the general society of the 
place, which I could not have supposed possible. Being 
a stranger there, I was feasted from table to table, at 
large set dinners, the parties generally from twenty to 
thirty. The revolution I had left, and that we had just 
gone through in the recent change of our own government, 
being the common topics of conversation, I was astonished 
to find the general prevalence of monarchical sentiments, 
insomuch that in maintaining those of republicanism, I 
had always the whole company on my hands, never scarcely 
finding among them a single co-advocate in that argument, 



unless some old member of Congress happened to be pres 
ent. The furthest that any one would go, in support of 
the republican features of our new government, would be 
to say, "the present Constitution is well as a beginning, and 
may be allowed a fair trial ; but it is, in fact, only a step 
ping-stone to something better." Among their writers, 
Denny, the editor of the Portfolio, who was a kind of 
oracle with them, and styled the Addison of America, 
openly avowed his preference of monarchy over all other 
forms of government, prided himself on the avowal, and 
maintained it by argument freely and without reserve, in 
his publications. I do not, myself, know that the Essex 
junto of Boston were monarchists, but I have always heard 
it so said, and never doubted. 

These, my dear Sir, are but detached items from a great 
mass of proofs then fully before the public. They are 
unknown to you, because you were absent in Europe, and 
they are now disavowed by the party. But, had it not 
been for the firm and determined stand then made by a 
counter-party, no man can say what our government would 
have been at this day. Monarchy, to be sure, is now de 
feated, and they wish it should be forgotten that it was 
ever advocated. They see that it is desperate, and treat 
its imputation to them as a calumny; and I verily believe 
that none of them have it now in direct aim. Yet the 
spirit is not done away. The same party takes now what 
they deem the next best ground, the consolidation of the 
government; the giving to the federal member of the gov 
ernment, by unlimited constructions of the Constitution, a 
control over all the functions of the States, and the con 
centration of all power ultimately at Washington. 

The true history of that conflict of parties will never 
be in possession of the public until, by the death of the 
actors in it, the hoards of their letters shall be broken up 



and given to the world. I should not fear to appeal to 
those of Harper himself, if he has kept copies of them, 
for abundant proof that he was himself a monarchist. I 
shall not live to see these unrevealed proofs, nor probably 
you; for time will be requisite. But time will, in the end, 
produce the truth. And, after all, it is but a truth 
which exists in every country, where not suppressed by 
the rod of despotism. Men, according to their constitu 
tions, and the circumstances in which they are placed, differ 
honestly in opinion. Some are Whigs, Liberals, Demo 
crats, call them what you please. Others are Tories, Ser- 
viles, Aristocrats, etc. The latter fear the people, and 
wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; 
the former consider the people as the safest depository 
of power in the last resort; they cherish them, therefore, 
and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise 
of which they are competent. This is the division of 
sentiment now existing in the United States. It is the 
common division of Whig and Tory, or according to our 
denominations of republican and federal; and is the most 
salutary of all divisions, and ought, therefore, to be fos 
tered, instead of being amalgamated. For, take away this, 
and some more dangerous principle of division will take 
its place. 

To Thomas Jefferson Smith 

MONTICELLO, February 21, 1825. 

This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The 
writer will be in the grave before you can .weigh its 
counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has re- 



quested that I would address to you something which might 
possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life 
you have to run, and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest 
in that course. Few words will be necessary, with good 
dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and 
cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and 
your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. 
Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life 
into which you have entered be the portal to one of eternal 
and ineffable bliss. And if to the dead it is permitted to 
care for the things of this world, every action of your 
life will be under my regard. Farewell. 

The Portrait of a Good Man by the most Sublime of Poets, 
for your Imitation 

Lord, who s the happy man that may to Thy blest courts repair, 
Not stranger-like to visit them, but to inhabit there ? 
Tis he whose every thought and deed by rules of virtue moves, 
Whose generous tongue disdains to speak the thing his heart dis 

Who never did a slander forge, his neighbor s fame to wound, 
Nor hearken to a false report, by malice whispered round. 
Who vice, in all its pomp and power, can treat with just neglect ; 
And piety, though clothed in rags, religiously respect. 
Who to his plighted vows and trust has ever firmly stood, 
And though he promise to his loss, he makes his promise good. 
Whose soul in usury disdains his treasure to employ. 
Whom no rewards can ever bribe the guiltless to destroy. 
The man who, by this steady course, has happiness insur d, 
When earth s foundations shake, shall stand, by Providence secur d. 

A Decalogue of Canons for Observation in Practical Life 

1. Never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day. 

2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself. 
.3. Never spend your money before you have it. 



4. Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; 
it will be dear to you. 

5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold. 

6. We never repent of having eaten too little. 

7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly. 

8. How much pain have cost us the evils which have 
never happened. 

9. Take things always by their smooth handle. 

10. When angry, count ten, before you speak; if very 
angry, an hundred. 

On Slavery 

To Miss Frances Wright 

MONTICELLO, August 7, 1825. 

My health is very low, not having been able to leave 
the house for three months, and suffering much at times. 
In this state of body and mind, your letter could not have 
found a more inefficient counsellor, one scarcely able to 
think or to write. At the age of eighty-two, with one foot 
in the grave, and the other uplifted to follow it, I do not 
permit myself to take part in any new enterprises, even 
for bettering the condition of man, not even in the great 
one which is the subject of your letter, and which has 
been through life that of my greatest anxieties. The march 
of events has not been such as to render its completion 
practicable within the limits of time allotted to me; and 
I leave its accomplishment as the work of another genera 
tion. And I am cheered when I see that on which it is 
devolved, taking it up with so much good-will, and such 
minds engaged in its encouragement. The abolition of the 
evil is not impossible; it ought never therefore to be 



despaired of. Every plan should be adopted, every ex 
periment tried, which may do something toward the ul 
timate object. That which you propose is well worthy 
of trial. It has succeeded with certain portions of our 
white brethren, under the care of a Rapp and an Owen; 
and why may it not succeed with the man of color? An 
opinion is hazarded by some, but proved by none, that 
moral urgencies are not sufficient to induce him to labor; 
that nothing can do this but physical coercion. But this 
is a problem which the present age alone is prepared to 
solve by experiment. It would be a solecism to suppose 
a race of animals created, without sufficient foresight and 
energy to preserve their own existence. It is disproved, 
too, by the fact that they exist, and have existed through 
all the ages of history. We are not sufficiently acquainted 
with all the nations of Africa, to say that there may not 
be some in which habits of industry are establisbed, and 
the arts practised which are necessary to render life com 
fortable. The experiment now in progress in St. Domingo, 
those of Sierra Leone and Cape Mesurado, are but begin 
ning. Your proposition has its aspects of promise also; 
and should it not answer fully to calculations in figures, 
it may yet, in its developments, lead to happy results. 
These, however, I must leave to another generation. The 
enterprise of a different, but yet important character, in 
which I have embarked too late in life, I find more than 
sufficient to occupy the enfeebled energies remaining to me, 
and that to divert them to other objects, would be a de 
sertion of these. You are young, dear Madam, and have 
powers of mind which may do much in exciting others 
in this arduous task. I am confident they will be so ex 
erted, and I pray to Heaven for their success, and that 
you may be rewarded with the blessings which such efforts 


On State Rights 

To William B. Giles 

MONTICELLO, December 26, 1825. 

Dear Sir: I wrote you a letter yesterday, of which you 
will be free to make what use you please. This will con 
tain matters not intended for the public eye. I see, at 
you do, and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides 
with which the federal branch of our Government is ad 
vancing toward the usurpation of all the rights reserved 
to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, 
foreign and domestic; and that too, by constructions which, 
if legitimate, leave no limits to their power. Take to 
gether the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of 
the President, and the misconstructions of the constitu 
tional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal 
branch, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling 
branches of that department are in combination to strip 
their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers re 
served by them, and to exercise themselves all functions 
foreign and domestic. Under the power to regulate com 
merce, they assume indefinitely that also over agriculture 
and manufactures, and call it regulation to take the earn 
ings of one of these branches of industry, and that, too, 
the most depressed, and put them into the pockets of the 
other, the most flourishing of all. Under the authority to 
establish post roads, they claim that of cutting down moun 
tains for the construction of roads, of digging canals, and 
aided by a little sophistry on the words "general welfare," 
a right to do, not only the acts to effect that, which are 
specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they 
shall think, or pretend will be for the general welfare. 



And what is our resource for the preservation of the Con 
stitution? Reason and argument? You might as well rea 
son and argue with the marble columns encircling them. 
The representatives chosen by ourselves? They are joined 
in the combination, some from incorrect views of govern 
ment, some from corrupt ones, sufficient voting together to 
outnumber the sound parts; and with majorities only of 
one, two, or three, bold enough to go forward in defiance. 
Are we then to stand to our arms, with the hot-headed 
Georgian? No. That must be the List resource, not to 
be thought of until much longer and greater sufferings. 
If every infraction of a compact of so many parties is 
to be resisted at once, as a dissolution of it, none can ever 
be formed which would last one year. We must have pa 
tience and longer endurance then with our brethren while 
under delusion ; give them time for reflection and experi 
ence of consequences; keep ourselves in a situation to profit 
by the chapter of accidents ; and separate from our com 
panions only when the sole alternatives left, are the dis 
solution of our Union, with them or submission to a govern 
ment without limitation of powers. Between these two 
evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesita 
tion. But in the meanwhile, the States should be watch 
ful to note every material usurpation on their rights ; to 
denounce them as they occur in the most peremptory terms ; 
to protest against them as wrongs to which our present 
submission shall be considered, not as acknowledgments 
or precedents of right, but as a temporary yielding to the 
lesser evil, until their accumulation shall overweigh that of 
separation. I would go still further, and give to the 
federal member, by a regular amendment of the Constitu 
tion, a right to make roads and canals of intercommunica 
tion between the States, providing sufficiently against cor 
rupt practices in Congress, (log-rolling, etc.) by declaring 



that the federal proportion of each State of the moneys 
so employed, shall be in works within the State, or else 
where with its consent, and with a due salvo of jurisdiction. 
This is the course which I think safest and best as yet. 

On Slavery 

To the Honorable Edward Everett 

MONTICELLO, April 8, 1826. 

Dear Sir: I thank you for the very able and eloquent 
speech you have been so kind as to send me on the amend 
ment of the Constitution, proposed by Mr. McDuffie. I 
have read it with pleasure and satisfaction, and concur 
with much of its contents. On the question of the law 
fulness of slavery, that is of the right of one man to ap 
propriate to himself the faculties of another without his 
consent, I certainly retain my early opinions. On that, 
however, of third persons to interfere between the parties, 
and the effect of conventional modifications of that pre 
tension, we are probably nearer together. I think with 
you, also, that the Constitution of the United States is 
a compact of independent nations subject to the rules 
acknowledged in similar cases, as well that of amendment 
provided within itself, as, in case of abuse, the justly 
dreaded but unavoidable ultimo ratio gentium. 


Jefferson s Inscription for his Tombstone 










174-3 O. S. 





Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell, Va., on the 
second of April,, 1743. He came of a good family. The 
Jeffersons, like the Washingtons, were landed proprietors, 
men of standing and influence in the community, Thomas 
Jefferson the elder being Justice of the Peace and Vestry 
man in his county, and holding at the time of his death 1,900 
acres of land and thirty slaves. Thomas was the third of 
ten children and, though only fourteen when his father died, 
had given promise of such unusual powers that strict pro 
vision was made in the will for his education. At fifteen he 
entered William and Mary College where he graduated four 
years later and entered upon the study of the law. 

From the first he showed aptitude as well as ambition for 
public affairs. When he came of age he was elected Justice. 
At twenty-five he was chosen to the House of Burgesses and 
remained a member until the Assembly was closed by the 
Revolution. Then he was sent to Congress and in 1779 
was elected Governor of Virginia. From that time until 
near the close of his life he was almost constantly engaged 
in the public service, acting successively as Member of 
Congress, Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice- 
President, and President. 

When he was fifty-seven he drew up a brief statement in 
the nature of an apologia pro vita sua which forms a modest 
account of his achievements up to that time. 

"I have sometimes asked myself, whether my country is 
the better for my having lived at all? I do not know that 
it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following 
things ; but they would have been done by others ; some of 
them, perhaps, a little better: 



"The Rivanna had never been used for navigation; 
scarcely an empty canoe had ever passed down it. Soon 
after I came of age, I examined its obstructions, set on foot 
a subscription for removing them, got an Act of Assembly 
passed, and the thing effected, so as to be used completely 
and fully for carrying down all our produce. 

"The Declaration of Independence. 

"I proposed the demolition of the church establishment 
and the freedom of religion. It could only be done by de 
grees; to wit, the Act of 1776, c. 2, exempted dissenters 
from contributions to the Church, and left the Church clergy 
to be supported by voluntary contributions of their own 
sect, was continued from year to year, and made perpetual 
1779, c. 36. I prepared the act for religious freedom in 
1777, as part of the revisal, which was not reported to the 
Assembly till 1779, and that particular law not passed till 
1785, and then by the efforts of Mr. Madison. 

"The act of putting an end to entails. 

"The act prohibiting the importation of slaves. 

"The act concerning citizens, and establishing the natural 
right of man to expatriate himself at will. 

"The act changing the course of descents, and giving the 
inheritance to all the children, etc., equally, I drew as part 
of the revisal. 

"The act for apportioning crimes and punishments, part 
of the same work, I drew. . . . 

"In 1 789 and 1 790, I had a great number of olive plants, 
of the best kind, sent from Marseilles to Charleston, for 
South Carolina and Georgia. They were planted, and are 
flourishing; and, though not yet multiplied, they will be the 
germ of that cultivation in those States. 

"In 1790, I got a cask of heavy upland rice, from the river 
Denbigh, in Africa, about lat. 9 30 north, which I sent 
to Charleston, in hopes it might supersede the culture of the 



wet rice, which renders South Carolina and Georgia so pes 
tilential through the summer. It was divided, and a part 
sent to Georgia. I know not whether it has been attended 
to in South Carolina, but it has spread in the upper parts 
of Georgia, so as to have become almost general, and is 
highly prized. Perhaps it may answer in Tennessee and 
Kentucky. The greatest service which can be rendered any 
country is to add a useful plant to its culture, especially 
a bread grain; next in value to bread is oil." 

This list of achievements necessarily omits the Purchase 
of Louisiana historically of only less importance than the 
Declaration since that was not accomplished until two 
years later. 

The true importance of Jefferson does not depend, how 
ever, upon these specific acts, but rather, as Lincoln pointed 
out in a letter written in 1859, upon his general influence: 

"All honor to Jefferson to the man, who in the con 
crete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a 
single people, had the coolness, forecast, and sagacity to 
introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract 
truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so embalm 
it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a re 
buke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reap 
pearing tyranny and oppression." 



Thomas Jefferson was a statesman not an author. In 
fact, few public men have had so little desire to appear in 
print. Writing in 1809 to a Mr. Campbell, he said: 

"In answer to your proposition for publishing a complete 
edition of my different writings, I must observe that no 
writings of mine, other than those merely official, have been 
published, except the Notes on Virginia and a small pam 
phlet under the title of A Summary View of the Rights of 
British America. 

"I do not mention the Parliamentary Manual/ published 
for the use of the Senate of the United States, because it 
was a mere compilation, into which nothing entered of my 
own but the arrangement and a few observations necessary 
to explain that and some of the cases. 

"I do not know whether your view extends to official 
papers of mine which have been published. Many of these 
would be like old newspapers, materials for future his 
torians, but no longer interesting to the readers of the day. 
They would consist of reports, correspondences, messages, 
answers to addresses; a few of my reports while Secretary 
of State, might, perhaps, be read by some as essays on ab 
stract subjects. Such as the report on measures, weights, 
and coins, on the mint, on the fisheries, on commerce, on the 
use of distilled sea-water, etc. The correspondences with 
the British and French ministers, Hammond and Genet, 
were published by Congress. The messages to Congress, 
which might have been interesting at the moment, would 
scarcely be read a second time, and answers to addresses 
are hardly read a first time. 

"So that on a review of these various materials, I see 
nothing encouraging a printer to a republication of them. 



They would probably be bought by those only who are in 
the habit of preserving state papers, and who are not many." 

In spite of his indifference to fame of this sort, his "Notes 
on Virginia," first published in 1784, ran through sixteen 
editions during his life time and has been reprinted a num 
ber of times since. 

The first collected edition of Jefferson s works was that 
published in 1854 by order of Congress. A more complete 
and carefully edited edition was prepared by Paul Leicester 
Ford in 1892-99, and in 1904 was published the very full 
and elaborate edition of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial 
Society of America, upon which this volume has principally 
been based. 

Jefferson has always been the prophet of American 
Democracy, and the interest in his writings is unlikely ever 
to cease, were it only for the political theory they contain. 
But a glance over the contents of this selection from his 
letters and papers will disclose a nature rich and many- 
sided, profoundly interested in science, in commerce, in edu 
cation, no less than in government in fact, a nature so opu 
lent in resources that it may be taken as an epitome of 
his age. 



8 A Youthful Attachment. The "picture and watch- 
paper" was that of Rebecca Burwell, who is referred to 
also in the letter which follows this on page 10. She was 
married in 1764 to Jacqueline Ambler. 

16 Declaration of Independence. The action of the 
Continental Congress on the Declaration of Independence 
was as follows. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, 
acting on instructions from the Virginia Assembly, intro 
duced a resolution that "these United Colonies are, and of 
Right ought to be, Free and Independent States." On 
June 1 1 Congress appointed to draft a Declaration a 
Committee consisting of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, 
Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert A. Liv 
ingston. Jefferson drafted the Declaration, which, after 
slight alteration by Adams and Franklin, was accepted by 
the Committee. On July 2, Congress adopted Lee s orig 
inal resolution, and on July 4>, Jefferson s Declaration with 
some omissions and changes, the most important of which 
were the omission of the denunciation of the British peo 
ple (page 21) and of the slave-trade (pages 1920). The 
Declaration was not signed by the Congress until August 2. 

23 On Retiring from Public Life. This letter seems 
to refer to Jefferson s refusal of a reappointment to Con 
gress in December, 1781. At that time he was being very 
severely criticised for his conduct as Governor of Virginia 
during the invasion of Cornwallis. 

24 "Notes on Virginia." This, the most extensive of 
the separate works of Jefferson, was compiled in response 
to the inquiries of Marbois, the French agent, as to the 
resources of the states. Written during Jefferson s retire- 



ment (1781-2), the "Notes" are of a remarkable frankness 
and freedom of expression, which make them invaluable as 
a revelation of character. They were published in French 
at Paris in 1784, translated, and repeatedly republished. 
They gave to Jefferson a place in the scientific world of 
Europe second only to Franklin, and are to-day the best 
account of Revolutionary Virginia. 

24 The American Genius. The instrument proper to 
them is the Banjar, which they brought hither from Africa, 
and which is the original of the guitar, its chords being 
precisely the four lower chords of the guitar. 

24 On Slavery. Throughout his life Jefferson was out 
spoken in his condemnation of slavery, for its ill effects 
on the whites (page 26) as well as on the blacks. Like 
Washington and the other opponents of slavery in the 
South, Jefferson saw that the fundamental difficulty was 
to find a place for the negro in society. Slavery was one 
solution, but, he believed, wasteful, injurious to the whites, 
and unjust to the blacks. He advocated gradual emanci 
pation (with compensation) and the colonization of the 
free negroes. He heartily supported the later project of 
transporting the free negroes to Sierra Leone. For fur 
ther information as to his attitude, compare the selections 
on pages 26, 34, 63, 146, 258, 285, 289- 

30 Martha Jefferson. Born Oct. 19, 1748, daughter 
of John Wayles. Married Jefferson in 1772, being at that 
time a widow, her first husband, Bathurst Skelton, having 
died several years previously. She died at Monticello in 

34 Peter Carr. A nephew of Jefferson, and one of 
the six children of Dabney Carr. They were brought up 
by Jefferson after the premature death of their father. 

38 Inferiority of Commerce and Manufactures to Agri 
culture. In letters of 1805 (page 167) Jefferson explained 



that he condemned manufactures and commerce because of 
the wretched conditions of city life in Europe, but that, 
as these conditions did not exist in a new country like 
America, the condemnation did not as yet apply there. 
(Compare page 191.) 

41 Superiority of the United States to France. It 
should be noted that Jefferson s belief in the absolute de 
pendence of a people s happiness on its political freedom 
inevitably darkened his pictures of European life. Com 
pare selections on pages 43, 242. 

45 On New States. The organization of the western 
territory into states and their admission into the Union 
were subjects of the deepest interest to Jefferson. In 
1784, when Virginia had completed the cession of her west 
ern claims to the Confederacy, Jefferson introduced an 
Ordinance into Congress which ( 1 ) forbade slavery in the 
territory after 1800; (2) divided it into small states with 
geographical names Pelisipia, Metropotamia, etc.; (3) 
provided for a temporary territorial government and 
speedy admission to the Union. The third section alone 
was adopted, but it became the foundation of the territorial 
policy of the United States. The prohibition of slavery 
reappears in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. 

47 Force in the Barbary States. Not until Jefferson 
was President, in the Barbary wars 1802-6, were these 
pirates and blackmailers compelled by force to respect the 
United States. 

48 The Society of the Cincinnati. The native and for 
eign officers of the Revolutionary Army organized this so 
ciety on May 13, 1783 to "perpetuate the remembrance of 
this vast event [the Revolution] and . . . mutual friend 
ship." The membership was restricted to the officers and 
their male heirs in direct line. The exclusive character of 
the membership and the hereditary element suggested to 



the supersensitive public opinion of the time an hereditary 
aristocracy and aroused widespread fear and dislike. The 
society still exists, with the thirteen original chapters. 

53 The Navigation of the Mississippi. The claim of 
Spain to the control of the Mississippi furnished one of 
the most difficult problems of the Confederacy. The river 
was the only outlet for the products of the settlers in the 
Ohio valley, and the indifference of the Northern and East 
ern States very nearly drove these to open revolt. Jeffer 
son fully appreciated the importance of the free navigation 
of the Mississippi and as Minister to France and as Secre 
tary of State (see pages 81, 92) used his utmost endeavors 
to secure it. 

61 Co-ngress of the Confederation. The weakness of 
Congress was due to the lack of a separate executive, and 
to its very limited power. It could not take any important 
action without the agreement of nine States ; it could not 
impose a tax of any sort, or enforce its laws except through 
the State authorities. 

62 Shay s Rebellion. After the Revolution the States 
passed through a time of profound economic depression. 
The circulating medium was in hopeless confusion, paper 
money nearly worthless, specie withdrawn from circulation. 
The markets were glutted with English goods, the taxes 
high, and the laws against debtors very severe. Popular 
risings occurred in Pennsylvania, New York, New Hamp 
shire, and especially in Western Massachusetts under Dan 
iel Shay in 1786-7. The object of this rebellion was to 
close the courts, to stop the collection of debts and taxes, 
and to secure favorable legislation. The State militia put 
down the rising without bloodshed. 

65 Adoption of the Constitution. Jefferson later (see 
page 227) enthusiastically adopted a modification of the 
absolute rejection of the Constitution by the four latest 



conventions, by which the States adopted the Constitution, 
but recommended amendments equivalent to a Declaration 
of Rights. These were later adopted as the first ten Amend 
ments. Jefferson at first (see page 231) advocated a Presi 
dential term of seven years, without reelection, and later a 
term of four years, with two terms as the maximum. (See 
also pages 67, 279-) 

72 The French Revolution. Jefferson s political the 
ories were profoundly modified by his contact with the 
French Revolution in its earlier and better stages. (See 
page 74.) 

80 Hamilton s Finance Post-Roads. This first extract 
in which the opposition of Hamilton and Jefferson appears, 
should be read, like many of those which follow, in the 
light of that opposition. Jefferson was not a great finan 
cier, and his criticism, though perfectly sincere, is of minor 
value from a financial point of view. The apprehensions 
of Jefferson as to the abuse of public improvements have 
proved only too well founded ; his attitude toward their 
constitutionality plainly foreshadows the strict construc- 
tionist policy. But compare pages 170, 259, 279- 

85 On the Constitutionality of a National Bank. The 
divergence in political theory between Hamilton and Jeffer 
son came to a head on this question. Washington asked 
his Cabinet to express their opinions in writing, and Jef 
ferson s is given in the selection. It was the first definite 
statement of the strict constructionist view of the Consti 
tution and served as a party platform. The practical dan 
gers of a strong National Bank are well stated on pages 

95 Party Politics. This letter, which purports to be a 
petition to Washington to serve a second term, was really 
an attack on the Federalist policy of Hamilton. It is of 
great importance as outlining the specific issue between 



Hamilton and Jefferson in 1792, when the political parties 
were just crystallizing. Jefferson s belief that a National 
Debt was a tremendously dangerous means of corruption 
appears repeatedly in his writings (e.g. page 126); 
the injustice of such debt to posterity is forcibly pre 
sented on page 219- Gallatin, Jefferson s Secretary of the 
Treasury, reduced the debt to a minimum, but the commer 
cial difficulties leading to the war of 1812 prevented its 

103 Twenty-four Years of Public Service. 17691775, 
Virginia House of Burgesses; 1775, Virginia Convention; 
1775-1776, Continental Congress; 1776-1778, Virginia 
Assembly; 1779-1781, Governor of Virginia; 1782-1784, 
Congress of the Confederation; 178-11789, Minister to 
France; 1790-1793, Secretary of State. 

104 Report on Trade and the Tariff. Interesting as 
indorsing a tariff that was to be incidentally protective in 
character. Protection did not become a political issue until 
after the war of 1812. 

110 Jay Treaty. This treaty with Great Britain was 
intrinsically very unsatisfactory, but probably the most 
favorable that could be procured at the time, and as such 
the Senate ratified it. The House, however, very nearly 
succeeded in defeating it by withholding the appropriations 
to carry it out. Jefferson s theory of the participation 
of the House in the treaty-making power has not found 
favor with constitutional writers nor been established in 

111 Mazzei Letter. This extract, the end of a long 
letter of a personal nature, was published in the Federalist 
newspapers, and served as a text for some of the most vio 
lent denunciations of his career. He was charged with 
referring to Washington, Adams, and others as "apostates" 
and supporters of monarchy. 



112 "P instead of A." The reference is an intrigue 
of Hamilton to withhold votes from Adams and thus secure 
the election of Thomas Pinckney, the Federalist candidate 
for Vice-President. 

115 Relations rvith Great Britain. In 1797 relations 
both with Great Biitain and France were very strained 
because of depredations on American commerce, and in the 
case of England, the imprisonment of American sailors. 
The Federalists clamored for war with France, while the 
Republicans regarded England as the chief offender. (See 
page 118.) 

122 Newspaper Libels. The license of the press, from 
which Washington himself was not exempt, was almost un 
limited in the early years of the Republic. The private 
characters of the leading men were blackened by the most 
barefaced libels. Porcupine and Fenno were the leading 
Federalist editors and pamphleteers, at whose attacks Jef 
ferson suffered keenly despite his attempt at philosophic 
calm. (See also page 175.) 

123 ... "unwise" . . . This is the reading of the 
edition of 1829 and of the Congressional edition. But 
George Tucker, in the Southern Literary Magazine for 
May 1838 (vol. iv. p. 344) asserts that the correct reading 
was "unusual," and that the error was due to the fading 
of the letter. Jefferson s copy of the letter was destroyed 
before that date, so the emendation cannot be fully estab 

123 Sectional Politics. For an explanation of the con 
ditions to which this letter refers, see the note on "Kentucky 
Resolutions," page 127. 

127 Kentucky Resolutions. The way in which Jeffer 
son came to draft these resolutions for the Kentucky Legis 
lature is clearly explained by Jefferson in the selection on 
page 270. The occasion for the resolutions was the legis- 



lation referred to in the text; legislation unwise, unjust, 
and probably unconstitutional. These laws were directed 
primarily against the small but very active group of French 
and English refugees who were the main-stay of the Repub 
licans in the newspaper world. Besides making naturaliza 
tion very difficult, the laws empowered the President to 
transport aliens in time of peace, provided for the exile 
of aliens in time of war, and widened the definition of 
sedition to include newspaper attacks on the Executive or 
Congress. The resolutions were adopted in their entirety 
by Kentucky in 1799- With the more moderate Virginia 
Resolutions of Madison, they were the armory of the strict 
constructionist and State Rights party until the Civil War. 
It is not clear that Jefferson regarded secession as a 
peaceful and legal remedy; certainly he did not advo 
cate secession in 1798; the doctrine of peaceful seces 
sion, however, could be and was logically deduced from 
them. In 1798, however, the Resolutions were intended 
as a formal protest (see page 123). Two copies of 
these resolutions are preserved among the manuscripts 
of the author, both in his own handwriting. One is 
a rough draft, and the other very neatly and carefully 
prepared. The probability is, that they are the orig 
inal of the celebrated Kentucky Resolutions on the same 

135 First Inaugural Address. This was perhaps the 
most characteristic address of Jefferson, revealing at once 
the far-sighted statesman and the wonderful political tac 
tician. The policy or ideal of government outlined on pages 
138 and 139 would be enthusiastically subscribed to by 
Americans of all periods, while the graceful appeal to 
forget party differences, and the studious avoidance of the 
earlier doctrines of 1798 were well calculated to disarm 
his opponents. 



140 Letter to the Senate. In communicating his first 
message to Congress, President Jefferson addressed this 
letter to the presiding officer of each branch of the national 

153 The Constitutionality of the Louisiana Purchase. 
Jefferson always believed that the purchase of Louisiana 
was necessary, but unconstitutional, because beyond the 
delegated powers. On receiving the news of the successful 
negotiations he at once drafted an elaborate amendment to 
the Constitution; in August, 1803, another and briefer one. 
But his own Cabinet and leading supporters dissuaded him 
from appealing to Congress, and Monroe at Paris urged 
a speedy ratification. Jefferson reluctantly sacrificed his 
own beliefs to the good of the nation, and contented him 
self with the tacit consent of the people. The Purchase 
was the death blow of strict construction in the original, 
literal sense. 

160 The Danger of the National Bank to the Govern 
ment. The arguments here presented were practically 
identical with those on which Jackson later successfully 
attacked the second Bank. In both cases the arguments 
were sound although the hostility was the more bitter be 
cause the Bank was controlled by the enemies of the Ad 
ministration. In his suggestion that the United States do 
its own banking, Jefferson anticipated the principle of the 
present Independent Treasury system. 

162 Death of daughter. Jefferson s daughter Mary, 
born at Monticello, Aug. 1, 1778, was described by Mrs. 
John Quincy Adams as "one of the most beautiful and 
remarkable children she had ever seen." She married her 
cousin John Wayles Epps, but her health was delicate and 
she died at the age of 26, on Apl. 17, 1804. (Compare 
page 164.) 

162 Attempted reconciliation with Adams. Mrs. Adams 


proved implacable, and refused to respond to the advances 
of Jefferson. The circumstances of the quarrel are ex 
plained in the note on page 196. 

168 Second Inaugural Address. It is interesting to 
note how four years of power had broadened Jefferson s 
conception of the legitimate activity of the Federal Gov 
ernment. National aid, through the states, was now advo 
cated for public improvements, manufactures, and educa 
tion. The letter of strict construction was preserved in 
the demand for a specific amendment to the Constitution, 
but the ideal of government differs little from that of 
Washington and Adams. See pages 259, 279- 

178 Proposed Alliance with Great Britain. The dispute 
with Spain referred to arose over the indefinite boundaries 
of the Louisiana Purchase, the United States claiming 
West Florida, and desiring East Florida. As Spain s re 
fusal to yield was backed up by Napoleon, Jefferson pro 
posed that Great Britain fight our battles for us. The 
proposal came to nothing. 

183 Thomas Jefferson Randolph. Grandson of Jeffer 
son and editor of his "Memoirs, Correspondence and Mis 
cellanies," 4 vols., published in Boston 1830. 

196 The Break tvith Adams. This account of the 
unfortunate estrangement between Adams and Jefferson is 
supplemented by the selections on pages 54, 112, 113, 114, 
162. Dr. Rush and other mutual friends finally succeeded 
in bringing these two old friends together (page 208) and 
they remained firm friends and constant correspondents. 
Their deaths on the same day, July 4, 1826, was a dra 
matic ending of the friendship. 

204 Federalists and Republicans. This description of 
political parties in 1812 shows the progress of the fusion 
of parties so ardently desired by Jefferson in his first In 
augural. It shows also the fundamental political convic- 



tions of Jefferson better than the Kentucky Resolutions 
(page 127). 

208 Reconciliation with Adams. See note on page 196. 

214 English Common Law in America. This was en 
tirely consistent with Jefferson s views in 1776, that the 
Colonists had all the rights of men and of Englishmen, 
and that the Colonies were not dependent on King or Par 
liament, but coordinate parts of the British Empire. 

217 Practical Politics. The improvability of the hu 
man mind and of institutions was the very foundation of 
Jeffersonian democracy. He himself believed that the 
progress of science and knowledge was the chief factor in 
such improvement. 

21Q Finance, Debt, etc. The national finances had 
fallen into hopeless confusion during the war of 1812, and 
under existing circumstances Jefferson s proposal of no 
loan without a specific tax and drastic reform of paper 
money were probably sound. His theory of the limitation 
of the liability for the National Debt to nineteen years 
must, of course, be taken as applying to the morality and 
justice of the obligation, not as a plea for repudiation. 

226 Political History. Compare pages 217 and 280. 

231 Massachusetts Politics. The war of 1812, although 
waged to protect American commerce, was exceedingly un 
popular in the commercial states of New England. The 
action of Massachusetts referred to was her refusal to 
furnish militia for service outside of the state. The New 
England opposition culminated in the Hartford Conven 
tion, which dissolved amid general ridicule on the conclusion 
of peace in 1815. 

233 The Monroe Doctrine Foreshadowed. In this let 
ter, as in the farewell address of Washington, may be 
seen the principle of the specific declaration of Monroe 
America for Americans, and no entanglements with 



Europe. Jefferson heartily commended Monroe s message 
(page 276). 

242 Comparison of Great Britain and the United Statet. 
Compare note on page 41. 

246 "Our Institution." The University of Virginia, to 
whose foundation and success Jefferson devoted the last 
years of his life. 

247 The Banking Mania. In the financial confusion 
and depression during and following the war of 1812 the 
people sought relief in the multiplication of banks and 
paper money. These banks were chartered by the states 
without any restriction as to specie reserve or emission of 
bank notes, and collapsed by the hundred in the panic of 
1819- After that sound banking principles were gradually 
established by the states by general legislation. 

248 Local Government. The local government of Vir 
ginia was practically unaltered by the Revolution, and the 
parish and county governments were still in the hands of 
the leading families. Jefferson s last years were devoted 
to three objects closely related in his own mind: The 
University of Virginia (page 2 16) ; a comprehensive public 
school system, adopted in principle; and a system of local 
government directly controlled by the people. The last 
was not fully developed until reconstruction times. 

250 The South American Colonies. During the Na 
poleonic regime the Spanish Colonies in America were 
practically independent, and after the restoration of the 
Bourbon king in Spain in 1815 revolted against his arbi 
trary rule. The younger statesmen of the United States, 
particularly Henry Clay, clamored for an immediate recog 
nition of their independence, if not for open assistance to 
them, but recognition was wisely deferred until 1821. 

259 The proposition under consideration at Washington 
was national aid to the National Colonization Society. In 



1819 Congress appropriated $100,000 to carry back to 
Africa slaves captured on the high seas, and in 1821 
founded the negro colony of Liberia. 

259 Public Improvements. See note on the Second In 
augural Address (page 168). 

263 The Supreme Court. Jefferson s criticism of the 
Supreme Court arose from three sources: He regarded the 
court as essentially anti-republican because the judges were 
not immediately dependent on the people (compare selec 
tion on page 254) ; he believed that power of the court to 
pass on the constitutionality of the acts of the Executive 
and the Legislature was contrary to the principle of the 
separation of the departments ; he saw clearly that the court 
as it existed, dominated by John Marshall, was undermin 
ing the principle of strict construction. 

26-1 Possibility of Secession. The reference, of course, 
was to the struggle over the admission of Missouri to the 

267 Corruption of the Teachings of Jesus. Jefferson 
himself winnowed out of the New Testament what he con 
sidered the genuine teachings of Jesus, and the compilation 
has been published as "Jefferson s Bible." His religious 
views exposed him to the charge of atheism in his own time, 
but to-day would not excite especial comment. 

269 The Spoils System. The "mischievous law" was 
the law usually known as "Crawford s Act," passed in 
1820, limiting the term of appointment of attorneys, col 
lectors, etc., to four years. This is considered the beginning 
of the "Spoils System" in national politics, although the 
officials were ordinarily reappointed until the inauguration 
of Jackson. 

279 Proposed amendments to the Constitution. These 
amendments were not even adopted by Congress. 



Memoirs, Correspondence and Miscellanies. By Thomas 
Jefferson Randolph. 4 vols. Boston 1830. 

Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Henry A. Wash 
ington. 9 vols. Washington 1853. 

Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by Paul Leicester 
Ford. 10 vols. New York 1892-99. 

Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Published under the au 
spices of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Society. 
20 vols. Washington 1904. 

Life of Jefferson. George Tucker. 2 vols. Philadelphia 

Life of Jefferson. H. S. Randall. 3 vols. New York 

Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson. S. N. Randolph. 
New York 1871. 

Life of Thomas Jefferson. James Parton. Boston 1874. 

Life of Thomas Jefferson. J. T. Morse Jr. Boston 1883. 

Life of Thomas Jefferson. J. Schouler. New York 1897. 

Life of Thomas Jefferson. H. C. Merwin. Boston 1901. 

The True Thomas Jefferson. W. E. Curtis. Philadelphia 

Works of Alexander Hamilton. Edited by Henry Cabot 

Life of Alexander Hamilton. By Henry Cabot Lodge. 



Adams, John, characterization of, 
56, 201-202; accused of being 
"Publicola," 94; candidate for 
President, 112; influenced by 
Hamilton, 115; relations with 
Jefferson, 113, 114-115; Jeffer 
son advances reconciliation, 162- 
164 ; account of break with Jeffer 
son, 196-202, 228-229; on con 
stitution of Great Britain, 197. 

Adams, John Quincy; answer to 
"Rights of Man," 281. 

Adams, Samuel, tribute to, 141- 

Admiration, clothes and, 9. 

Advice, ethics of, 36. 

"Agricola," Jefferson accused of 
being, 94. 

Agriculture, commerce and, 40-42; 
science of first order, 158. 

D Alembert, mentioned, 239. 

Alexander of Russia, characteriza 
tion of, 196. 

Alien and sedition laws, 271 ; draft 
of resolutions, 127-134; constitu 
tionality of, 126. 

Alien influence in American com 
merce, 116. 

Alienage, laws of, national bank 
and, 86. 

American character, 62. 

American commerce, trade in home 
bottoms, 75; alien influence in, 

American finance, 219-226, 247- 
248; internal revenue, 169. 

American genius, art of war, 24; 
astronomy, 24; physics, 24. 

American men, 46. 

American poetry, 24. 

American politics, 217-218, 226- 
230 ; monarchical tendencies, 
111; in 1798, 122; sectional dis 
sensions, 123 ; danger of disunion, 
124; in 1790, 281. 
See also Antifederalists, Federal 
ists, Republican party. 

American system, 277. 

Anglo-American alliance, 178-179; 
in event of French taking 
New Orleans, 143; desirable, 

Annexation, constitutionality, 154. 

Antifederalists, join Republicans, 

Arbitration, 49. 

Argand, lamp of, 90. 

Argument, Jefferson on, 185. 

Artisan, as a citizen, 40. 

Atheism, morality of, 238. 

Bank of the United States, 85-89, 

Bank notes, unlimited emission de 
preciates specie, 226 ; prohibition 
of, 247. 

Banks, danger to Government, 160- 
161; alienators of nation s re- 



sources, 223; evil influence of, 

Barbary States, European peace 
alliance, 49. 

Beaujolois, France, chateau de 
Laye-Epinaye, 58. 

Beckley, John, mentioned, 93. 

Blackstone, characterization of, 

Books, reality and, 12. 

Bourbon, house of; characteriza 
tion, 196. 

Boys, education of, 36-40. 

Brutus, Jefferson accused of being, 

Buffon s tables, 220. 

Burr, Aaron, mentioned, 199. 

Burvvell, Rebecca, loved by Jeffer 
son, 11. 

Bushnell, Mr., of Connecticut, 
mentioned, 35. 

Calvinism, 274. 

Canals, congressional authority to 
open, 88. 

Canning, opinion on Anglo-Ameri 
can alliance, 277. 

Carr, Mrs. Dabney, mentioned, 

Catherine of Russia, characteriza 
tion of, 196. 

Celtic language, Jefferson s at 
tempt to acquire, 14. 

Centralization of government, 249. 

Chase, Samuel, appointment as 
judge of Supreme Court, 111. 

Chateau de Laye-Epinaye, Beaujo 
lois, 58. 

Chesapeake affair, 213. 

Christian VII, King of Denmark, 
estimate of, 196. 

Church and State, 29. 

Cincinnati, Order of, European 
conception of, 50-5 1 ; influences 
monarchical tendencies in Amer 
ica, 51. 

Cities, corruption of, 134, 160, 167; 
growth of, 134. 

Citizens, most valuable classes of, 

Citizenship, educational qualifica 
tion for, 253. 

Civil jurisdiction, over food, in 
France, 30; over medicine, in 
France, 30; over expression of 
scientific theories in France, 30; 
in Italy, 30; over religion in 
Rome, 29. 

Climate, effect of warm climates, 28. 

Clinton, George, mentioned, 203. 

Coke, mentioned, 8, 216. 

Colbert, mentioned, 59. 

Commerce, 104-107; agriculture 
and, 40-42. 
See also American commerce. 

Common law of England in Amer 
ica, 214-217. 

Condorcet, mentioned, 239. 

Conduct, Jefferson on, 283-284. 

Connecticut, political influence in 
1798, 123-124. 

Constitution, adoption of, 67-6?; 
objections to, 69-70. 

Constitutional amendment, pro 
hibiting Federal Government to 
borrow, 126; on slavery, 289. 

Constitutional amendments, Jeffer 
son on, 279-280. 



Constitutionality of alien and sedi 
tion laws, 126; of annexation, 
154 ; of Federal power for internal 
improvement, 88, 259-260, 280, 
288; of the Louisiana purchase, 
153-155; of a national bank, 85- 
89; of prescribing religious exer 
cises, 181-182. 

Cow-pea, agricultural advantages 
of, 120. 

Credit, national, American, 71; 
English, 70. 

Credit system, American, 62. 

Creek Indians, 148. 

Crop rotation, Jefferson on, 120- 

Cuba, annexation of, 192-193, 272- 

Cuyahoga canal, 79. 

Deane, Silas, mentioned, 117. 

Dearborn, General Henry, men 
tioned, 177. 

Declaration of Independence, text 
of, 16-22. 

Declaration of rights, 68-73. 

Deism, 239. 

Denny, editor of "Portfolio," 
monarchical preferences of, 282. 

Descartes, mentioned, 30. 

Descents, course of, national bank 
and, 86. 

Diderot, mentioned, 239. 

Discriminating duties, 106. 

Disputation, Jefferson on, 185. 

Distribution, laws of, national bank 
and, 86. 

Divers, Mr., mentioned, 214. 

Domestic pleasures, Jefferson on, 

52, 67, 103-104. 
Donald, Alexander, mentioned, 

Dupont de Nemours, mentioned, 


Education, 109; of girls, 32; of 
boys, 36-40; English, 45; Euro 
pean, 45-46. 

Egoism, 239-240. 

Ellsworth, Oliver, appointed as 
chief justice, 111. 

Emigrants, German, 147; learned 
vs. laboring classes, 159, 167. 

Encyclopedic methodique, prints 
misleading article on the Cincin 
nati, 50. 

English interference in American 
commerce and finance, 116. 

"Entangling alliances" phrase, 

Eppes, Mrs. Francis, mentioned, 

Escheat, law of, national bank and, 

Essex junto, 208, 282. 

Ethics, comment on, 36; study of, 

European alliance against Barbary 
states, 49. 

European politeness, 45; morals, 
45; women, 45. 

European war, Jefferson on, 116. 

Farmer, as a citizen, 40. 
Farming, Jefferson on, 119-122. 
Fast day, Jefferson refuses to pro 
claim, 181-182. 



Federalists, Jefferson s opposition 
to, 77-78; majority in Congress, 
98; monarchical party and seces 
sion, 100; influence in securing 
presidency for Adams, 198; 
Jefferson on, 204-208. 

Fenno, John, mentioned, 122. 

Ferdinand IV, King of Naples, 
estimate of, 196. 

Ferdinand VII, King of Spain, 
estimate of, 196. 

Fiction, power of, 12; history and, 

Floridas, cession of, 192; com 
pensation for French possession 
of Louisiana, 145. 

Food, government control, 30. 

Foreign missions, 274-275. 

Forfeiture, law of, national bank 
and, 86. 

France, civil jurisdiction in, 30; 
compared with United States, 
42-44; domestic happiness in, 
43; music of, 44; and Barbary 
states, 49; influence of women in 
government, 74; court hatred of 
parliaments, 74; power of States 
General, 74; commerce with 
United States, 75 ; Lafayette and 
the Tiers-fitat, 79-80; relations 
with United States, 142-145. 

Franklin, Benjamin, estimate of, 
24; lamp invented by, 90; Mes- 
mer and, 90; French people s re 
spect for, 90; Vergennes regard 
for him, 91 ; amiability of, 185. 

Frankliniana, 89-92. 

Freedom of religion, 29, 170. 

Freedom of the press, 166. 

French interference in American 

commerce and finance, 116. 
French language, value of knowing, 


French literature, 43. 
French manners, 44. 
French people, temperate habits of, 

French revolution, 102; American 

influence on, 76-77. 
French women, life of, 57 ; influence 

in government, 74. 
Friends, Society of, 275. 
Friendship, Jefferson on, 204. 

Galileo, mentioned, 30. 

Gallatin, Albert, and American 
finance, 82. 

George III, of England, characteri 
zation of, 196. 

German colonization in Virginia, 
66; immigrants, 147. 

Girls, education of, 32. 

Government, theory of, 54. 

Government control; see Civil 

Gravitation, law of, mentioned, 

Great Britain, Barbary states and, 
49; war with Spain, 85; inter 
ference in American affairs, 102; 
negotiations with United States 
affected by Washington s retire 
ment, 102; trade with United 
States, 106; Anglo- American 
alliance, 178-179; Adams and 
Hamilton on British constitution, 
197; sea power, 211; relations 
with United States, 212-214; 



compared with United States, 

Grief, 2.52. 

Growth of cities, Jefferson on, 134. 
Gustavus of Sweden, estimate of, 


Hamilton, Alexander, financial 
policy, 82; influence on Adams, 
115; anti-republican influence, 
123; on British constitution, 197; 
Julius Ciesar greatest man in 
opinion of Hamilton, 198; politi 
cal theories of, 205; monarchical 
preferences, 281. 

Hand, General, mentioned, 79. 

Happiness, estimate of, 9, 11. 

Harper, Dr., monarchical prefer 
ences, 283. 

Hereditary magistracies, 108. 

History, lesson of, 13; study of, 37. 

D llolbach, mentioned, 239. 

Holland, and Barbary states, 49. 

Holy Alliance, 277. 

Home consumption, 191. 

Home and foreign missions, 274- 

Homogeneity of population, de 
pendent on territorial division, 

Honesty, 37, 109. 

Hopkinson, Mrs. Francis, men 
tioned, 33. 

Horse, utility of, 38. 

Hotel de Salm, Paris, 58. 

Howe, General, mentioned, 15. 

Humphreys, Colonel David, men 
tioned, 35, 50, 84. 

Hunting, as an exercise, 38. 

Imports, tariff on, 169. 

Impressment of seamen, 211. 

Incorporation, congressional power 
of, 88. 

Indian policy of the United States, 
94-95, 148. 

Indians, degeneracy, 170-172; fut 
ure of, 188-191. 

Internal improvements, constitu 
tionality of Federal promotion of, 
259-260, 288. 

Internal revenue, 169. 

Italy, civil jurisdiction in, 30. 

Jay treaty, 110. 

Jefferson, Thomas, in love with 
Rebecca Burwell, 10; interest in 
Celtic language, 14; attitude 
toward England, 15; retirement 
from public life, 23; private 
affairs, 23 ; ambassador in France 
34; contributes article to En 
cyclopedic methodique on the 
Cincinnati, 50 ; has no interest in 
country west of Alleghany, 55, 
at Nismes, 58; Secretary of State; 
80-81 ; attacked by "Publicola," 
93; accused of using pen name of 
"Agricola" and "Brutus," 94; 
urges Washington to reconsider 
contemplated retirement, 1 00- 
101; public service of, 102-103; 
retirement of, 103-104; rural 
life, 107; relations with John 
Adams, 113, 114-115; as Presi 
dent, inaugurates custom of pre 
senting annual message in writ 
ing, 140; advances reconciliation 
with Adams, 162-164; death of 



his daughter, 164-165; reasons Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

for refusing to proclaim day of 
fasting and of prayer, 181-182; 
comment on his political op 
ponents, 186; daily routine at 
Monticello, 194-195; account of 
break with Adams, 196-202, 
228-229; personalia, 202-204, 
261-263; reconciliation with 
Adams, 208-210; anticipates 
Monroe doctrine, 233-234; phi 
losophy of life, 252-253 ; religion 
of. 257-258. 

Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 
to John Adams, 1791, July 17. 
Letter of explanation, 93; 1811, 
January 21. On reconciliation, 
208-210; 1813, June 15. On 
practical politics, 217-218; 
July 27. On political history, 
226-230; 1816, April 8. On 
the philosophy of life, 252-253; 
1823, April 11. On religion, 

to Mrs. John Adams, 1804, June 
13. Advance toward recon 
ciliation with John Adams, 

to Samuel Adams, 1801, March 
29. Tribute to Samuel Adams, 

to Edward Bancroft, 1788, Jan 
uary 26. On emancipating 
slaves, 65. 
to J. Bannister, jr., 1785, October 

15. On education, 45. 
to Bellini, 1785, September 30. 
On the superiority of United 
States to France, 42. 

to William B. Bibb, 1808, July 
28. On public ownership, 182- 

to Mrs. Bingham, 1787, February 
7. Letter of courtesy, 57. 

to John Brown, 1788, May 26. 
Navigation of the Mississippi, 

to Joseph C. Cabell, 1816, Febru 
ary 2. On local government, 

to David Campbell, 1810, Janu 
ary 28. On choice of a pro 
fession, 193-194. 

to William Carmichael, 1790, 
August 2. On the Missis 
sippi, 83-85; 1791, March 12. 
Control of the Mississippi, 

to Peter Carr, 1785, August 19. 
Letter of advice, 36. 

to Edward Carrington, 1787, 
January 16. On newspapers, 
53; August 4. Division of 
authority in government, 63. 

to Thomas Cooper, 1814, Sep 
tember 10. Comparison of 
Great Britain and United 
States, 242-245; October 7. 
On courses of study, 246. 

to D lvernois, 1795, February 6. 
Political theory, 108. 

to Alexander Donald, 1787, July 
28. On the national character, 
62; 1788, February [?]. On 
philosophy of life, 67; Feb. 
ruary 7. On the adoption of 
the Constitution, 67. 



Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

to Dupont de Nemours, 1816, 
April 24. On educational 
qualification, 253. 

to John W. Eppes, 1813, July 24- 
On finance national debt 
paper money, 219-226. 

to Edward Everett, 1826, April 8. 
On slavery, 289. 

to Robert Fulton, 1807, August 6. 
On torpedoes, 177. 

to Albert Gallatin, 1803, De 
cember 13. Danger of banks 
to the Government, 160-161; 
1815, October 16. On banks, 
247-248; 1817, June 16. On 
internal improvements, 259- 

to Robert J. Garnett, 1824, 
February 14. On amend 
ments to the Constitution, 

to Elbridge Gerry, 1797, May 13. 
On his relations with Adams 
and attitude toward England, 

to William B. Giles, 1825, De 
cember 26. On State rights, 

to Captain Hendrick, 1808, De 
cember 21. Advice, 188- 

to John Holmes, 1820, April 22. 
On the possibility of secession, 

to Francis Hopkinson, 1789, 
March 13. On character of 
Washington, 78. On party, 


Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

to Alexander v. Humboldt, 1813, 

December 6. Monroe doc 
trine foreshadowed, 233-234. 
to Dr. Thomas Humphreys, 1817, 

February 8. On slavery, 258- 


to Andrew Jackson, 1803, Feb 
ruary 16. On Indian policy, 

to John Jay, 1785, August 23. 

On superiority of agriculture 

to commerce, 40. 
to Martha Jefferson, 1783, No 
vember 28. On education, 32. 
to Walter Jones, 1814, January 2. 

On character of Washington, 

to Rufus King, 1807, July 13. 

Colonization of slaves in Sierra 

Leone, 146-148. 
to General Knox, 179T, August 

10. On a national Indian 

policy, 94. 
to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810, 

Fel ruary 26. On his manner 

of life, 194-195. 
to Lafayette, 1787, April [?]. 

Travel and science, 60. 
to John Langdon, 1810, March 5. 

On the breeding of kings, 195- 

to Thomas Law, 1814, June 13. 

On basis of morality, 238-242. 
to Thomas Ixjiper, 1809, January 

21. On manufactures, 191- 

to James Lewis, jr., 1798, May 9. 

On newspaper libels, 122-123. 


Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

to Mr. Lithson, 1805, January 
4. Qualifies condemnation of 
cities and manufactures, 167- 

to Robert E. Livingston, 1802, 
April 18. Policy as to pur 
chase of Louisiana, 142-145. 

to Charles McPherson, 1773, 
February 25. Opinion of 
Ossian, 13. 

to James Madison, 1787, January 
30. On theory of government 
and on Louisiana, 53; Char 
acter of John Adams, 56; 1788, 
May 3. National credit, 70 
72; 1790, March 6. On Hamil 
ton s finance, post-roads, 82- 
83; 1793, June 9. On obliga 
tions to public service and the 
simple life, 102; 1796, Decem 
ber 17. On Adams for Presi 
dent, 112; 1797, January 30. 
On las relations to Adams, 113; 
1805, August 27. Proposed 
alliance with Great Britain, 
178-179; 1809, April 27. On 
annexation of Cuba, 192-193; 
1820, November 29. On the 
spoils system, 269-270. 
to James Martin, 1813, Sep 
tember 20. On term of office 
and Massachusetts politics, 

to James Maury, 1812, April 
25. On foreign affairs, 210- 

to Philip Mazzei, 1796, April 26. 
On party lines, 111. 


Jefferson, Thomas, Letters, 
to Michael Megear, 1823, May 
29. On home and foreign 
missions, 275-276. 
to John Melish, 1812, January 
13. On Federalists and Re 
publicans, 204-208. 
to Samuel Miller, 1808, Janu 
ary 23. Reasons for refusing 
to proclaim a fast, 181-182. 
to James Monroe, 1782, May 
20. On retiring from public 
life, 23; 1785, June, 17. On 
expenses in Paris, 34; 1786, 
July 9. On new States, 46; 
August 11. Doctrine of force 
in Barbary states, 48; De 
cember 18. On the simple life, 
52; 1796, March 21. Jay 
treaty, 110; 1816, February 4. 
On aiding South American 
colonies of Spain, 250-252. 
1823, June 23. On annexa 
tion of Cuba, 272-273; Octo 
ber 24. On the Monroe 
doctrine, 276-2 , 8. 
to John Page, 1762, December 
25. On a juvenile experience, 
7; 1763, July 15. On an 
affair of the heart, 10; 1804, 
June 25. On the loss of his 
daughter, 164-165. 
to Mann Page, 1795, August 
30. Fxlucation, rogues, and 
honest men, 109. 

to Dr. Richard Price, 1785, Au 
gust 7. On slavery, 35; 1789, 
January 8. American influence 
on French Revolution, 76-77. 


Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

to John Randolph, 1775, No 
vember 29. Attitude toward 
England, 15. 

to Dr. Spencer Roane, 1819, 
September 6. On the Supreme 
Court, 263-264. 

to Benjamin Rush, 1800, Sep 
tember 23. On yellow fever 
and growth of cities, 134; 
1803, April 21. On religion, 
149; 1808, January 3. In 
troducing his grandson; esti 
mate of character, 179; 1811, 
January 16. Account of break 
with Adams, 196-202; August 
17. Personalia, 202-204. 

to Edward Rutledge, 1787, July 
14. On rice culture, 71. Sup 
pression of slave trade, 62; 
1797, June 27. On the posi 
tion of the United States, 118- 

to William Short, 1793, Janu 
ary 3. On the French Revolu 
tion, 102 ; 1820, August 4. 
On religion, 266-269; 1825, 
January 8. Concerning party 
names and purposes, 280- 

to Robert Skipwith, 1771, August 
3. On books, 12. 

to Colonel Smith, 1787, No 
vember 13. Apropos Shay s 
rebellion, 64. 

to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith, 
1816, August 6. Concerning 
his religion, 257-258. 

to Thomas Jefferson Smith, 1825, 

Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

February 21. Rules of con 
duct, 283-285. 

to Hyde de Neuville, 1818, De 
cember 13. On the tax on 
wine, 260-261. 

to George Nicholas, 1821, De 
cember 11. On the Kentucky 
resolutions, 270-272. 

to Wilson C. Nicholas, 1803, 
September 7. Constitutional 
ity of Louisiana purchase, 153 

to John Norvell, 1807, June 11. 
Conduct of a newspaper, 175- 

to Dr. Ezra Styles, 1785, July 17. 
On the screw propeller, 34. 

to John Taylor, 1798, June 1. 
On sectional politics, possi 
bility of division, 123-125; 
November 26. On public 
debt, 126; 1816, May 28. On 
the true republic, 254-257. 

to Comtesse de Tesse, 1787, 
March 20. Art et la politesse, 

to John Tyler, 1804, June 28. 
On politics, 166; 1812, June 
17. On the English common 
law in America, 214-217. 

to Dr. Nine Utley, 1819, March 
21. On personal religion, 261- 

to George Washington, 1786, No 
vember 14. On the Cincin 
nati, 50; 1788, May 2. Po 
tomac canal, European affairs 
and the Constitution, 69-70; 



Jefferson, Thomas, Letters. 

December 4. On foreign af 
fairs, commerce, 73-76; 1789, 
May 10. On political consis 
tency, 79-80. On canals, 
Congress, returns, 78-79; 
December 15. On his ap 
pointment as Secretary of 
State, 80-81; 1792, May 23. 
Obligations and discomforts 
of public office, 95-102; 1795, 
April 25. Rural life, 107. 

to David Williams, 1803, No- 
vemlx?r 14. On learning and 
agriculture, 157-160. 

to William Wirt, 1808, January 
10. Urging him to run for 
Congress, 180-181. 

to Miss Frances Wright, 1825, 
August 7. On slavery, 285. 


1st inaugural, 135-140. 
2d inaugural, 168-175. 
3d annual, 155-157. 
8th annual, valedictory, 187. 

Notes on Virginia; see that 

Jesus Christ, syllabus on estimate 

of the merit of doctrines of, 150- 

153; character of, 266. 
Jews, character of, 125; religious 

rites of, 268; religious system 

of, 151. 
Joseph I, of Austria, estimate of, 

Justinian s institutes, 216. 

Kentucky, political sympathy with 
Virginia, 271. 

Kentucky resolutions, Jefferson on, 

Kings, breeding of, 195-196. 

Lafayette, mentioned, 50; Repub 
lican principles, 79-80. 
Language, impossible to write two 

languages perfectly, 46. 
Languedoc canal, 69. 
Law, profession of, 193. 
Legal tender, paper money not a, 


Libels, newspaper, 122, 172-173. 
Liberty of conscience, 29, 170; of 

the press, 166. 

Lindsay, Mr., mentioned, 214. 
Littleton E., mentioned, 216. 
Ixians and taxation, 222. 
Local government, 248-250. 
Log rolling, 288. 
Louis XVI, of France, estimate of, 

Louisiana purchase, 55, 142-145, 

156, 170; constitutionality of, 

Love, emotion of, among negroes, 


McCaul, Alexander, mentioned, 14. 

McDonald, Mr., offers iron mine 
to Government, 182. 

McDufTie, speech on slavery, 289. 

McPherson, James, characteriza 
tion of, 13. 

Maison Quanve, Nismes, 58. 

Man, imitative faculty, 27. 

Manufactures, encouragement of, 


Maria, Queen of Portugal, estimate 

of, 196. 

Mariner, as a citizen, 40. 
Maritime rights, 41. 
Massachusetts, Shay s rebellion, 

64; political influence of, in 1798, 

123-124; leads Federalist party, 

206; politics of, 231-232. 
Mays, Mr., Virginian slave-holder, 

mentioned, 66. 
Medicine, government supervision, 

30; profession of, 193; study of, 

Melish, John, " Travels through the 

United States," comment on, 204. 
Mercantile marine, American, 41- 

Merry, Anthony, British envoy in 

United States, estimate of, 213. 
Mesmer, Franklin and, 90. 
Mexico, incorporation with United 

States, 272. 

Minzees, Ninian, mentioned, 14. 
Misfortune, resignation under, 11. 
Mississippi River, abandonment of 

navigation to Spain, 55; sover 
eignty over, 72-73, 84, 92, 156- 

Monarchical tendencies in United 

States ; see American politics. 
Monarchies, Jefferson s opposition 

to, 70. 
Monopoly, laws of, national bank 

and, 86. 
Monroe doctrine, Jefferson on, 

233-234, 276-278. 
Montaigne, criticism of, 109. 
Montesquieu, political theories, 


Morality, Jefferson on, 238-242. 
Morals, European, 45. 
Moreau, mentioned, 179. 
Morocco and United States, 49. 
Morris, Gouverneur, mentioned, 

Martmain, laws of, national bank 

and, 85. 

Mosaic faith, 267. 
Moultrie, W., mentioned, 94. 
Music, French, 44. 

Naples, kingdom, and Barbary 
states, 48. 

Napoleonic policy, 192. 

National bank, 160; constitutional 
ity of, 85-89. 

Negro colonization, 25; citizen 
ship, 26 ; emotional faculties, 26, 
27; mental faculties, 26; musical 
faculty, 27. 

Neutrality, desirability, 115-116. 

New, Mr., mentioned, 123. 

New Orleans, strategic commercial 
position, 142. 

Newspapers, value of, 52; libels, 
122; abuses of, 172-173; conduct 
of, 175-176. 

Newton, Isaac, mentioned, 30. 

New York, sectarianism in, 31. 

Nicholas, W. C., mentioned, 271. 

Nismes, France, Maison Quarree, 

Notes on Virginia, extracts from; 
revision of Virginia constitution, 
25; American genius, 24; on re 
ligion, 29-31 ; new edition of, 167. 

Ossian, estimate of, 13. 



Paine, Thomas, Rights of Man, 93; 
attacked by "Publicola," 93. 

Paper money, 219-226; induces 
legislative corruption, 97-98; 
not a legal tender, 126; issues of 
1755, 223. 

Paris, expense of living in, 34; 
women of, 57; Hotel de Salm, 58. 

Party politics, Jefferson on, 77-78; 
see also Antifederalists, Fed 
eralists, Republican party. 

Peace, war and, 49. 

Pennsylvania, sectarianism in, 31. 

Physical exercise, Jefferson on, 38. 

Pickering, T., mentioned, 218. 

Pinckney, C. C., candidate for 
presidency, 112. 

Plato, mentioned, 151. 

Poetry, Ossian, the greatest poet, 
14; American, 24; negro, 27; 
study of, 37. 

Politeness, 185. 

Political consistency, 79-80. 

Political patronage, 82-83. 

Political theory, 108-109. 

Population, homogeneity of, de 
pendent on territorial division, 

"Porcupine," mentioned, 122. 

Portugal and Barbary states, 48. 

Post-roads, 82. 

Potomac canal, 69, 78. 

Pnetorian palace, Vienna, 59. 

President of United States, re- 
eligibility to office tends to 
monarchy, 70; veto power, 89; 
Jefferson inaugurates custom of 
presenting message in writing, 
140; term of office, 231, 279. 

Press; see Newspapers. 

Priestley, Dr. Joseph, " Socrates and 
Jesus Compared," mentioned, 

Privateering, 119-120. 

Public debt, 126, 219-226. 

Public ownership, 182-183. 

Public service, measure of, 102- 

"Publicola," attacks on Paine and 
Jefferson, 93; John Adams ac 
cused of being, 94. 

Quakers, 275; as slave-holders, 66. 

Randolph, Peyton, mentioned, 120, 

Reading, for boys, 37, 39. 

Reason and religion, 29-30. 

Rebellion, value of, 54, 65. 

Reciprocity, 104-107. 

Religion, 149, 266-269, 274-275; 
freedom of, 29, 170; and reason, 
29; uniformity of, 30; sectarian 
ism, 31. 

Republican party, 111; minority in 
Congress, 98; accessions to, in 
third Congress, 99; minority of. 
in 1798, 123; Jefferson on, 204- 

Republics, territorial division of, 
108; theory of, 254-257. 

Resignation, 11. 

Rice, culture, 61 ; trade in, 76. 

" Rights of Man," Paine s, 93. 

Rittenhouse, David, estimate of, 

Rochefoucauld, criticism of, 109. 



Rotation of crops. Jefferson on, 


Royalty, degeneracy, 195-196. 
Rural life, 107. 
Rush, Benjamin, theory of bleeding 

and of mercury, 246. 

Screw-propeller, 34-35. 

Sea power, American, 41, 49, 75; 
British, 211, 212. 

Secession, possibility of, 100, 264- 

Sectarianism, 31. 

Sedgwick, Theodore, mentioned, 

Senate of United States, term of 
office too long, 231. 

Shay s rebellion, 64. 

Siberian barley, experiments with, 

Sierra Leone, colonization of slaves 
in, 146-148. 

Simple life, Jefferson on, 52, 67, 

Skipwith, Mrs., mentioned, 33. 

Slavery, abolition in Virginia, 25; 
influence on manners, 27 ; eman 
cipation of slaves, 29, 65; in 
Maryland, 35; in Virginia, 35; 
suppression of, 62; colonization 
in Sierra Leone, 146-148; coloni 
zation, 258-259; abolition of, 
285; constitutional amendment, 

Slodtz, A., Diana of, 58. 

Small, Dr. William, mentioned, 

Smith, Jonathan B., mentioned, 93. 

Soils, renewal of, 121. 

South Carolina Yazoo Company, 

Spain, and Barbary states, 49; 
dispute with United States, 83- 
85; claims to territory north of 
31, 84; war with England, 85; 
control of Mississippi River, 92; 
negotiations with United States 
affected by Washington s retire 
ment, 102; educational qualifica 
tions for citizenship, 253. 

Spanish-American colonies, Ameri 
can aid to, 250-252. 

Spanish language, value of knowl 
edge of, 39. 

Spoils system, 269-270. 

State and Church, 29. 

State control ; see Civil jurisdiction. 

State governments, American, best 
in the world, 126. 

State rights, 280, 287-289. 

Study, courses of, 246. 

Style, 46. 

Submarine boats, 177. 

Suffrage, educational qualification, 

Supreme Court of the United States, 

Tariff, 104-107; discriminating 
duties, 106; on imports, 169. 

Taxation, constitutional provision, 
87; collection of taxes facilitated 
by national bank, 88; and loans, 

Taylor, "New Views of the Con 
stitution," mentioned, 277. 

Theocritus, quoted, 226. 

Theology, study of, 246. 



Tobacco, American trade in, 75. 
Torpedoes, 177. 

Tracy, Nathaniel, mentioned, 218. 
Trade, see Commerce. 
Travel, pleasure of, 60. 
Treasury notes, issue, 247. 
Treaty-making power, 154-155. 
Trist, Mrs. N. P., mentioned, 33. 
Truthfulness, 37. 

United States, sea power, 41, 49, 
75; mercantile marine, 41-42; 
war with European powers, 42, 
73-74; compared with France, 
42-44; territorial division, small 
vs. large States, 46-47; and 
Morocco, 49; credit system, 62; 
government authority in, 63; 
public debt, 71, 96-97; Euro 
pean interest in Constitution of, 
71 ; post-roads in, 82; finances of, 
82; Indian policy, 94-95; paper 
money, 97-98 ; legislative corrup 
tion, 98; secession, 99, 100, 264- 
266; foreign relations, 118; with 
France, 142-145, 154, 155; with 
Great Britain, 154, 210-214; 
compared with Great Britain, 
242-245 ; see also American Poli 
tics; Anglo-American alliance; 
President of United States; sen 

ate of United States; supreme 
court of United States. 

Veto power, 89. 

Vergennes, Count de, regard for 

Franklin, 91. 
Victor Emmanuel I, King of 

Sardinia, estimate of, 196. 
Vienna, Praetorian palace in, 59. 
Virginia, abolition of slavery in, 25 ; 

revision of Constitution, 25; 

negro insurrection, 146; political 

sympathy with Kentucky, 271. 
Voltaire, quoted, 43. 

Walking, as an exercise, 38. 

War and peace, 49; Jefferson on, 

117, 122-123. 
Washington, George, estimate of, 

24; characterization of, 78, 234- 

238; retirement of, 95, 100-101; 

and Federalism, 207. 
Whately, Phyllis, mentioned, 27. 
William III, of Prussia, estimate of, 


Wine, tax on, 260-261. 
Wolcott, Oliver, mentioned, 218. 
Wollaston s theory of morality, 238. 
Women, European, 45. 
Wythe, George, mentioned, 184. 

Yellow fever, Jefferson on, 134.